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April 4, 2011

Scientists Identify Genetic Markers for Early Prostate Cancer in African-Americans

  • Genetic variants of the miRNA binding sites of the IL-16 and IL-18 genes could represent new biomarkers for increased risk of prostate cancer specifically among African-American men, according to new research reported by scientists at Fox Chase Cancer Center. The team, led by Veda Giri, M.D., director of Prostate Cancer Risk Assessment at the center, claims the variants are associated with a two-fold or greater increased risk of early prostate cancer diagnosis in African-American men undergoing screening. They hope that if the findings can be confirmed, the variants could in the future be included in a panel of genetic variants used to help individualize prostate screening. The research was reported today at the AACE 102nd Annual Meeting.

    The researchers analyzed SNPs in miRNA binding sites in four genes, ALOX15, IL-16, IL-18, and RAF1, in about 750 men enrolled in the Prostate Cancer Risk Assessment Program at Fox Chase. None were associated with prostate cancer risk in Caucasian participants. However, African-American men who carried a variant in the miRNA binding site of the IL-16 gene had a 2.27-fold increased risk of early cancer diagnosis compared with men of the same ethnicity who didn’t carry the variant. Those who carried a variant in the miRNA binding site in the IL-18 gene had a 4.4-fold increased risk of early diagnosis.

    The scientists stress that the findings need to be confirmed in larger studies. However, Dr. Giri states, “We have found some preliminary data supporting the idea that genetic variation in miRNA target sites can influence prostate cancer risk. Our goal is to develop individualized prostate cancer screening approaches, particularly for high-risk men. Down the road, these new markers may help us do that.”

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