Tulane professor reveals genetic differences in advanced prostate tumors

Pierre St-Jean

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NEW ORLEANS, LA - Dr. Predo Barata, an assistant professor at Tulane University, and his colleagues conducted research to find racial differences in advanced prostate tumors.

Dr. Predo Barata is part of the Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology at Tulane's School of Medicine. He said that African American men with prostate cancer have been diagnosed with more aggressive diseases at younger ages. Generally, African American men also have a poorer prognosis than non-Black patients, but data shows that they respond similarly and sometimes better to different systemic therapies than non-Black patients.

Barata and his colleagues believe that this could be caused by the underlying genetics of the tumors. To find racial differences in the molecular characterization of advanced prostate tumors, Barata and his colleagues use liquid biopsy, which is a blood test that looks for tumor DNA in the bloodstream.

Barata said, “More specifically, we were looking for signatures or gene expressions in the samples from African American patients that could have therapeutic implications.”

The research used liquid biopsies of 552 advanced prostate cancer patients, which include 125 African American patients and 427 White patients, and they were provided by the University of Utah School of Medicine, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Medical University of South Carolina, the Emory University School of Medicine, Karmanos Cancer Institute, and Tulane Cancer Center.

The data shows that African Americans have different cancers and that they respond to treatment differently. Barata added that most clinical trials for prostate cancer mostly enroll White men and that they have to build on the research in order to improve the outcome of minority patients.

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