Collaborative Research Project to Identify Gene Drivers of Cancer Disparities in Populations of African Descent

It was recently announced that the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center and Fox Chase Cancer Center will collaborate with Pfizer’s Institute for Equitable Translational Medicine to identify new gene drivers of cancer disparities in populations of African descent.

  • The collaboration leverages the African Caribbean Cancer Consortium, a multi-institutional, transcontinental network of scientists, oncologists, and health professionals focused on understanding cancer risk and outcomes among people of African descent.
  • The overall goal of the study is to create a cancer genome registry of ethnically diverse patients designed to expand existing resources and promote health equity through genomics, molecular epidemiology, and social determinants of health research in cancer patients of African descent.

The Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center and Fox Chase Cancer Center announced that a collaboration with Pfizer’s Institute for Equity Translational Medicine (ITEM) will launch the Cancer Genomics Study to characterize new genetic, molecular, and social determinants of cancer in populations of African descent. .

“People of African descent disproportionately develop aggressive high-grade cancers, particularly in breast and prostate tissues, and the underlying drivers are not well understood,” he said. Sophia H.L. George, PhD, Associate Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of the University of Miami Health System, and Co-Chair of the African Caribbean Cancer Consortium (AC3) Women’s Cancer Task Force. Despite great unmet need, there are a limited number of powered research studies to investigate cancer risk and outcomes in people of African descent.

To address these knowledge gaps, this collaboration will create a clinical genomic registry of biological specimens accompanied by epidemiological, behavioral, and clinical data from patients of African descent diagnosed with breast and prostate cancer. Leveraging the global reach of the AC3 network, the team will recruit patients from ethnically, geographically, and socioeconomically diverse subpopulations of the African Diaspora: US-born and immigrant Black patients residing in the United States, patients from moderate-income countries and low in the Caribbean islands and patients from western, eastern and southern countries of the African subcontinent.

The scientific objectives of this study include 1) to identify rare somatic gene drives and germline cancer pathogens by whole-exome sequencing matched with normal tumor, 2) to determine heritable cancer risk by gene panel testing on gene drives known cancers, 3) characterizing hormone receptor status using immunohistochemistry, and 4) denoting key lifestyle and socioeconomic factors influencing cancer outcomes in patients of African descent.

“We established the Institute for Equitable Translational Medicine to achieve health equity by preventing, treating, and identifying drivers of diseases that disproportionately affect minority and underserved populations nationally and globally. Our goal is to use the data to help better understand the drivers of health inequities,” said Aida Habtezion, MD, MSc, FRCPC, AGAF, Pfizer’s chief medical officer and global head of medicine and safety. “We are delighted to collaborate with Fox Chase Cancer Center, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, and the African Caribbean Cancer Consortium to begin closing the gaps in applying scientific knowledge to disparities in disease incidence, prevalence, and patient outcomes. with cancer of African descent.

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