Mapping genetic differences in breast cancer can improve care for underserved populations
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A study comparing DNA and RNA data from Nigerian breast cancer patients to patients in a United States database found that certain aggressive molecular features were far more prevalent in tumors from Nigerian women than in black or white American women.

In the Oct. 9, 2018 issue of Nature Communications, the study’s authors say those differences in multiple molecular features could potentially explain disparities in breast cancer mortality for women from Nigeria, and perhaps other West African nations.

“We think our data provide insights that could make a significant difference,” said study author Olufunmilayo Olopade, MD, the Walter L. Palmer Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine and Human Genetics, associate dean for Global Health and director of the Center for Clinical Cancer Genetics at the University of Chicago Medicine.

“Understanding the molecular mechanisms that trigger these lethal breast cancers,” she added, “is a crucial first step toward intervention.”

The study, “Characterization of Nigerian breast cancer reveals prevalent homologous recombination deficiency and aggressive molecular features,” compares genomic data from 1,037 U.S. patients, provided by The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), to genomic data from 194 Nigerian women with breast cancer. The researchers found multiple, often unexpected, genetic differences between the racial and ethnic groups.

Although the Nigerian patients

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