Thursday, September 22, 2011
Genetic differences in prostate cells seem to be a root cause of the prostate cancer disparities between African-American males and white men
Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men in the United States, with occurrences and mortality rates higher in African-American men compared to white men. Researchers analyzed normal and cancerous prostate tissue samples from African-American and white men who underwent prostate biopsies. They looked at two key genetic pieces: messenger RNA (mRNA), which carry codes from DNA that is then used to make proteins; and microRNA, shorter RNA strands that regulate that process by binding to mRNA and interrupt the gene expression or protein translation. The results showed enough differences between African-American and white men to determine that each race has population specific mRNA and microRNA. Specifically, they found that nearly 400 mRNAs were differentially expressed between the cancerous prostate tissues of African-American and white men. These differences are crucial because mRNA and microRNA affect the biological pathways by which prostate cancer tumor formation is either promoted or stopped.