Leanne Burnham, PhD, discusses the correlation between HER2 positivity and race in patients with prostate cancer.
Leanne Burnham, PhD, postdoctoral fellow, Division of Health Equities, City of Hope, discusses the correlation between HER2 positivity and race in patients with prostate cancer.
The role of HER2 positivity in prostate cancer has been explored over the past decade. Research done in animal and preclinical models ultimately led to clinical trials that primarily examined the anti-HER2 agent trastuzumab (Herceptin) in patients with prostate cancer, according to Burnham. However, these trials ultimately failed because not enough patients with HER2-positive disease were enrolled and trastuzumab monotherapy was not found to be efficacious, Burnham says. Moreover, information on race was not reported in these trials; therefore, HER2 positivity was not evaluated by race, Burnham adds.
Currently, research being done at City of Hope has found that not only is HER2 expressed in prostate tumors, but HER2 expression is correlated with West African ancestry, based on tumor tissue specimens collected from a small cohort of African American patients, Burnham notes. As such, West African ancestry is an important factor to consider when studying biological or genetic determinants of disease because these characteristics can be used to better understand the genetic role of DNA in a disease, Burnham concludes.