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Researchers Find Genetic Vulnerability in Pediatric Neuroblastoma

By April 22, 2021No Comments

With few targeted therapies available, children with cancer often receive treatments that kill cancer and noncancer cells alike, causing many side effects. To pave the way toward more targeted drugs for childhood cancers, researchers at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Boston Children’s Hospital have been looking for genes that pediatric cancer cells depend on for their growth and survival. Those genes, or dependencies, recently outlined in a dependency map for pediatric cancers, can help scientists find potential new therapeutic targets.

Now scientists from the Cancer Dependency Map (DepMap) project and their colleagues have  used that map to identify one such genetic dependency—a gene called NXT1—in neuroblastoma, one of the most common solid tumors in children. In a new study published in Cancer Discovery, the scientists report that NXT1 is a promising drug target for some forms of neuroblastoma. They found that depleting NXT1 in these cancer cells results in the loss of another gene, called NXF1, which is essential for cell survival.