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  • Comprehensive Analysis Identifies Numerous New Genetic Markers for Prostate Cancer

    In an extensive international effort, scientists have identified 451 genetic variants associated with prostate cancer, enhancing the precision of genetic risk assessment for this common malignancy. The study, published in Nature Genetics, represents the most sizable and varied genetic analysis focused on prostate cancer to date, spearheaded by the USC Center for Genetic Epidemiology, the Keck School of Medicine of USC, USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, and The Institute of Cancer Research, London.

    Enhanced Risk Prediction Tools
    Researchers have significantly improved a genetic risk scoring system that now more accurately predicts the onset of prostate cancer. Particularly notable is the system's refined ability to forecast the severity of the disease in men of African descent, distinguishing between aggressive and non-aggressive forms of cancer.

    Christopher Haiman, ScD, the AFLAC Chair in Cancer Research at the Keck School of Medicine, emphasized the importance of diverse genetic studies. "Larger and larger studies, engaging a broader spectrum of populations, are important if we’re going to identify genetic markers of risk and develop risk prediction tools that are equally effective across populations," he stated.

    Diverse Genetic Insights
    The team analyzed genomic data from over 950,000 men, including 156,319 prostate cancer patients and a control group of 788,443 individuals. This massive data set revealed 187 new genetic variants linked to prostate cancer and refined 150 previously identified ones, ensuring a more accurate correlation with the risk across various populations.

    "It’s an important refinement to find markers that are better at capturing risk across populations," said Haiman, who is also the director of the USC Center for Genetic Epidemiology.

    Toward Personalized Medicine
    The findings pave the way for personalized medical consultations, allowing men to make informed decisions about prostate cancer screening and treatment with their healthcare providers. The goal is to develop genetic tests to identify those at heightened risk for aggressive prostate cancer, leading to earlier and more frequent screenings.

    The differentiation between aggressive and less aggressive prostate cancer types is a crucial advancement. Haiman explained, "We’ll continue to improve this risk score, and look for markers that help to distinguish aggressive from less aggressive disease."

    Global Collaboration for a Global Challenge
    The research is the culmination of a global scientific collaboration, incorporating data from virtually every related study to date. Key partnerships with the U.S. Veterans Health Administration’s Million Veteran Program and Argonne National Laboratory were instrumental in including a wide array of populations in the study.

    Over 300 researchers from more than 100 institutions across 26 countries contributed to this monumental effort. Haiman highlighted the spirit of cooperation: "This shows what happens when the world research community comes together to make improvements for all."

    The study stands as a testament to the potential of international collaboration in advancing our understanding of genetic risks and improving the lives of men around the world affected by prostate cancer.

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