Kay Wagner



  • 2015 : Grand Prize in Cancerology from the Simone and Cino del Duca Foundation (French Academy of Sciences)
  • 2008 : Du Bois-Reymond-Prize, German Physiological Society
  • 2007 : INSERM AVENIR
  • 2003 : European Molucular Biology Organisation Long-term Fellow
  • 1998 : Robert-Koch-Prize, Charité, Germany


The work of Kay Dietrich-Wagner, an Inserm Research Director at the Insitute of Biology Valrose (UNS, CNRS, Inserm), and of Nicole Wagner, an Inserm Researcher, has shown that the inactivation of the WT1 gene (for Wilms' Tumor Suppressor 1) can inhibit tumoral angiogenesis, activate the immune system, and prevent the appearance of metastases. Their results suggest that the WT1 gene is therefore a potential therapeutic target for new anti-cancer strategies. 

Initially described as a tumor suppressor gene due to its inactivation in Wilms' tumors (nephroblastomas), the tumor-promoting role of WT1 was more recently identified in view of its overexpression and proliferation-enhancing properties in tumor cells from numerous types of human cancers (pancreatic cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, glioblastomas). Based on these observations, vaccine clinical trials are now underway In Japan, Italy, Belgium, and the United States, and the initial results are encouraging. 

In addition, work directed by Dr. Nicole Wagner and carried out with Dr. Kay-Dietrich Wagner and Dr. Jean-François Michiels of the Pathological Anatomy and Cytology Lab has uncovered an even more important role of the WT1 gene: The WT1 transcription factor is also overexpressed in most of the other, non-tumor cells involved in cancer proliferation. For example, WT1 contributes to tumor progression by stimulating the development of intratumoral vessels, as well as by blocking the destruction of cancer cells by immune cells. 

These results open the door to new perspectives in terms of the mode of action and the indications provided by these pre-therapeutic studies. In the medium- or long-term, it also becomes possible to imagine the development of new medical therapies.