Genitourinary Cancer: Research

Zebrafish Research Advances Science

While treatment for most GCT is effective – better than a 90% cure rate – the toxicity of chemotherapy creates an incentive to develop molecularly guided therapies. This is especially the case given an inexplicable rise in T-GCT among adolescent boys.

James Amatruda, M.D., Ph.D., is among a small handful of researchers worldwide leading the way on genitourinary cancer research. For years, the genes controlling the differentiation of GCT remained unknown. Over the past fve years, though, through a series of more than seven published papers, Dr. Amatruda and his colleagues have begun to unravel the molecular circuitry of GCTs.  His group developed a novel zebrafsh model of GCT, and identifed a genetic mutation in Bone Morphogenetic Protein (BMP) receptor, a cell signaling pathway, as the cause of GCTs in the model. They then validated that the same pathway is defective in GCTs occurring in children. The Amatruda lab has also defned how altered gene methylation – a genetic control mechanism that is especially important in childhood cancers – contributes to GCT. Dr. Amatruda is currently working on new treatment therapies to bring his translational work from lab to bedside. 


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