African American men currently have the highest rates of prostate cancer in the United States and the poorest outcomes. New grants from the U.S. Department of Defense and American Cancer Society will fund work by two Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center teams focused on understanding and eliminating prostate cancer health disparities.
Compared with men in other racial and ethnic groups, African American men are also at higher risk of being diagnosed with a highly aggressive type of prostate cancer at a younger age. Race-related differences in access to prostate cancer screening and treatment play a large role in these persistent health disparities, but the role of other contributing factors, such as genetic and epigenetic differences in susceptibility and treatment response, remains largely unknown.
Anna Woloszynska, PhD
Dhyan Chandra, PhD
Anna Woloszynska, PhD, Associate Professor of Oncology in Roswell Park’s Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, received a 2-year, $613,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Defense to study the genetic and epigenetic vulnerabilities of prostate cancer in African American men.
“We believe that identifying new molecular features, specific to African American patients, will enable us to design novel diagnostic and prognostic tests that will help to reduce racial disparities,” said Dr. Woloszynska, whose work will focus on the unique molecular pathways that influence prostate cancer biology.
Dhyan Chandra, PhD, Professor of Oncology in the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, received a 2-year, $240,000 grant from the American Cancer Society to study cytochrome c deficiency in African American men.
“Due to lack of the mitochondrial protein cytochrome c, standard prostate cancer therapies often are less effective in African American men,” said Dr. Chandra, who hopes the work will point the way to new, more effective therapies. “Our goal is to inhibit signals that promote prostate cancer in these men, which will allow cancer cells to enhance production of this key protein, cytochrome c, leading to the demise of prostate cancer cells in African American men.”
Roswell Park is the only National Cancer Institute–designated comprehensive cancer center in upstate New York.