Rhabdomyosarcomas (RMS tumors) is a cancer of the skeletal muscles. It is the most common soft-tissue sarcoma of childhood cancer--so that is what Dr. Wang and her team are focused on studying.
In “Delving into Rhabdomyosarcoma,”
Dr. Wang notes in the article that her team’s objective is to identify cellular targets and pathways disrupted in cancer cells. She discusses chemotherapy, identification of genetic and epigenetic alterations in helping to develop novel therapies, and where her team’s research is going in the future.
In “Childhood Cancer,” Dr. Wang discusses alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, the most aggressive form of childhood muscle cancer and the research that may lead to more effective therapies.
“Childhood cancers are biologically different from the cancers that affect adults,” explained Dr. Wang. “Childhood cancers require fewer genetic mutations to become more aggressive as they are generally formed from more primitive cells and therefore can spread more easily than adult cancers.
“RMS can occur in the oral cavity,” she continued. “But, RMS tumors are derived from mesenchymal cells instead of ectodermal cells from which the majority of oral cancers develop. You wouldn’t classify RMS as an oral cancer. However, about 40% of RMS occurs above the shoulder,” she continued, noting that such a significant occurrence in the head and neck makes RMS a topic of great interest in dentistry.
“Alveolar RMS has a unique genetic instability called ‘chromosomal translocation’
Dr. Wang’s team is interested in gene transcription. “We want to know how this new protein contributes at the molecular level in disrupting muscle cell behavior,” she said, “whether it is to make cells grow very fast, to change cell shapes and motity, or to block their ability to differentiate into mature muscle.”
If Dr. Wang’s team can decipher the processes that cause this cancer, then the next logical step is to figure out how to stop these processes in RMS, and perhaps even other cancers.
“We expect that these molecular data will provide insights into defects that are uniquely associated with RMS development, as well as defects that are shared by other tumor classes,” she said. “Ultimately, such understanding will enable us to improve the process of patient diagnosis or prognosis, and to refine the design of therapeutic reagents that specifically interrupt tumor function without damaging normal cell function.
“In a nutshell, we’re trying to understand the cancer mechanism, and trying to find a cure,” Dr. Wang said. “This type of cancer is not as broad in the population as some other cancer types, but what’s more important than helping children?”
Dr. Wang’s unique research has been funded by the National Cancer Institute since 1997.
International Innovation by Research Media Ltd., which is based in Bristol, United Kingdom, is a global dissemination resource for the scientific, technology, and research communities. To see Dr. Wang’s article, go to http://www.research-
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The University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry confers the DMD (dentist) degree as well as specialty degrees, and provides oral healthcare to patients. It is the largest dental school in Illinois and is affiliated with the University of Illinois at Chicago.