New Discoveries and Honors in Cancer Research

Read the latest cancer research and recognition from the members of the Damon Runyon scientific circle.
January 23, 2018
New drug target for neuroblastoma

Mark W. Zimmerman, PhD (Damon Runyon-Sohn Fellow ’14-’18) and colleagues at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, have identified mechanisms that drive about 10 percent of high-risk neuroblastoma cases. Neuroblastoma is the most common solid tumor affecting infants and young children with few effective treatment options. The researchers found that a protein called c-MYC could cause neuroblastoma, when it is produced at abnormally high levels in tumor cells in a zebrafish model. They also found that chromosomes had breaks and rearrangements near the gene producing c-MYC. Such rearrangements put c-MYC next to pieces of DNA called super-enhancers that normally regulate and increase expression of other genes. c-MYC hijacked the super-enhancers, driving the development of neuroblastoma. This offers a new focus for precision drug development, particularly for an emerging class of drugs that work by degrading proteins like c-MYC. The results were published in Cancer Discovery.