Researchers from 14 institutions across the country today announced the results of the first genome-wide linkage study of prostate cancer in African Americans. Using genetic markers, researchers identified several regions of the human genome that likely contain genes that, when altered, increase the risk of developing prostate cancer.
The study was conceived, implemented and executed primarily by African American investigators. Published in the journal, The Prostate, the AAHPC is a milestone in years of research designed to identify genetic risk factors for prostate cancer and to help determine if heredity plays a role in the disparity in prostate cancer rates seen among African American men. The African American Hereditary Prostate Cancer Study Network (AAHPC) recruited 77 African American extended families, which encompassed a total of 418 men with prostate cancer, to participate in this study. All of the families studied had at least four men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Using genetic markers, researchers were able to map several important regions of the human genome that likely contain genes that, when mutated, predispose these men to developing prostate cancer.
We're not certain how much this will shape policy on the issue, but it's an important step.