Newswise — Bethesda, MD – It is well established that prostate cancer is more prevalent in African American men when compared to men of other ethnicities. There has been a premise that a combination of genetics, lifestyle, nutritional and medical access reasons led to the significant statistical difference. However, in their study titled, “A Novel Genomic Alteration of LSAMP associates with Aggressive Prostate Cancer in African American Men,” published in EBioMedicine ( pii/S2352396415301870), researchers from Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU), Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, DoD’s Joint Pathology Center (JPC), Dana-Farber Cancer Research Institute (DFCI), Genomatix GmbH and CytoTest, Inc., found some distinct genomic variations that also could be to blame.

The genes studied were those associated with early stages of prostate cancer development and progression. In African American men with rapid disease progression, researchers, co-led by Drs. Shiv Srivastava (USU), Albert Dobi (USU) and Matthew Freedman (DFCI), noted that a tumor suppressor gene, LSAMP, was missing from a key chromosome. The authors contend that this might, in part, explain some of the more aggressive cancers seen in African American men. In contrast, Caucasian men with similar types of prostate cancers showed much lower frequency of LSAMP alterations but higher frequency of two widely studied prostate cancer driver genes, ERG and PTEN.

The USU, Walter Reed-Bethesda and JPC collaborative team, through comprehensive evaluations of matched cohorts of African American and Caucasian American prostate cancers, previously established a higher frequency of ERG alterations in Caucasians (50-70%) and its significantly lower frequency in African Americans (20-25%). These intriguing observations actually provided the rational for the current study focusing on whole genome evaluations of prostate cancers from these two patient populations.

These findings reveal differentially distributed somatic mutations in prostate cancer across ancestral groups, and affirms the need for future evaluations of cancer genomes in global context with important implications for precision medicine strategies.

“This highly collaborative study was made possible due to complementary expertise of investigators from different institutions. Equally significant were long-term biospecimen banks and multi-center database of the Center for Prostate Disease Research (CPDR) at USU and Walter Reed-Bethesda that comprises a high proportion (25%) of African American men treated for prostate cancer in the equal access Military Healthcare System. The new emerging knowledge on ethnicity-associated differences of the prostate cancer genome and perhaps other cancers needs more research and has promising potential to enhance the repertoire of new biomarkers and therapeutic targets that may benefit all patients,” said Srivastava. “Given the recent availability of next-generation sequencing opportunities at USU, we will be able to accelerate our research in this direction.”

About the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences

The Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, founded by an act of Congress in 1972, is the nation’s federal health sciences university and the academic heart of the Military Health System. USU students are primarily active duty uniformed officers in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Public Health Service who receive specialized education in tropical and infectious diseases, TBI and PTSD, disaster response and humanitarian assistance, global health, and acute trauma care. A large percentage of the university’s more than 5,200 physician and 1,000 advanced practice nursing alumni are supporting operations around the world, offering their leadership and expertise. USU also has graduate programs in biomedical sciences and public health committed to excellence in research, and in oral biology. The University's research program covers a wide range of clinical and other topics important to both the military and public health. For more information about USU and its programs, visit