Gene mutation may raise prostate Ca risk in African-Americans

October 6, 2005

Scientists at 13 research centers have identified a gene mutation that may increase the risk of prostate cancer up to three times in African-American men with a family history of the disease.

Scientists at 13 research centers have identified a gene mutation that may increase the risk of prostate cancer up to three times in African-American men with a family history of the disease. The mutation in EphB2 occurred in 15% of men with a strong family history of prostate cancer, compared with 5% of men with no history. The findings are the first to come out of the African-American Hereditary Prostate Cancer (AAHPC) study network.

After isolating the EphB2 gene from white blood cells taken from 72 men in the AAHPC study, researchers found that 11 of the 72 men (15%) had a mutation, and that same mutation was found in only 5% in a control group of 329 healthy African-American men and in only 1.7% of 231 European-American men.

The results are an extension of findings implicating EphB2 as a prostate cancer tumor-suppressor gene.

"This is the first gene mutation to be associated with familial prostate cancer in African-American men," said first author Rick A. Kittles, PhD, of The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, Columbus. "Next, we must learn more about how this mutation contributes to cancer, and we must screen for the mutation in a much larger group of African-American men with prostate cancer to verify its association with the disease."

The study was published in the online version of Journal of Medical Genetics, Sept. 9, 2005.