Clark Atlanta University has had a $7.4 million grant renewed for research in prostate cancer. The grant will go toward developing DNA sequencing in prostate cancer and will help researchers understand why this form of cancer has such a disproportionate impact on black men.
The grant was awarded by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, a subsidiary of the National Institutes of Health. The agency is dedicated to improving minority health and eliminating health disparities among races. As explained in the press release, Clark Atlanta University’s Center for Cancer Research and Therapeutic Development focuses their research efforts on prostate cancer. The center is dedicated to the “establishing research collaborations with both academic and lay communities that are critical to the prevention, detection and treatment of prostate cancer and elimination of prostate cancer disparities,” Dr. Shelia A. McClure, a program official for the grant, explained in the release. The CCRTD is not only involved in prostate cancer research but actively works to train future generations of researchers, especially those from underrepresented groups.
Although prostate cancer is found in men of all races and ethnicities, in the United States it is particularly destructive in black men. Black men have the highest risk of developing prostate cancer, are more likely to have a particularly aggressive prostate cancer, and have the highest mortality rate of deaths from prostate cancer, according to the press release.
The award will help to secure the partnership of the CCRTD and three research centers that together have helped to form the Collaborative Center for Cancer Genomics. Researchers from this group use DNA sequencing of singular tumors to help identify specific genetic variations that cause the cancer to behave so differently in black men.
Information from the CDC shows that in 2010 prostate cancer was diagnosed in 196,038 men in the U.S. and killed 28,560 men. The risk of developing this form of cancer increased with age. It is the number one cancer found and the number two cause of death from cancer in American men of all races.
Genetic testing has proved to be extremely useful in the early detection of some cancers. In particular, genetic testing for breast cancer has gained public attention. “We don’t want a woman to wait till 40 or 50 for her first mammogram. We start screening for breast cancer, using breast MRI’s and/or mammogram starting at age 25 in these families because we see cancer starting at a much younger age,” Kate Durda, a certified genetics counselor at the Hall-Perrine Cancer Center, explained to ABC affiliate KCRG. This test was made particularly famous when actress Angelina Jolie revealed that she had underwent a double mastectomy as a preventive measure due to results from her genetic tests. Other diseases that can be shown in a genetic test include ovarian cancer, bipolar disorder, and Parkinson’s disease