AUG 12, 2020 6:16 AM PDT

Genomic study of cervical cancers in sub-Saharan Africa

A first-of-its-kind study provides a comprehensive genomic study of cervical cancers in sub-Saharan Africa. Sub-Saharan African countries have the highest death rates of cervical cancer in the world, accounting for 19 of the 20 countries with the highest global rates. Every year the disease kills 300,000 women, most of them in sub-Saharan countries.

The genomic study hones in on tumors from 212 Ugandan patients with cervical cancer. Led by Akinyemi I. Ojesina, M.D., Ph.D., University of Alabama at Birmingham, in collaboration with international colleagues, the study analyzed mutational changes in the DNA of the tumor cells. In contrast to other genomic studies, this one "is the first cervical cancer study to focus on whole-genome sequencing of all samples -- as opposed to whole-exome -- leading to the identification of noncoding alterations," says Ojesina.

Additionally, says Ojesina, "This study is novel as the first cervical cancer study in which the majority of patients were positive for HIV -- the virus that causes AIDS. This allowed the identification of genomic features that distinguish HIV-positive and HIV-negative patients."

The researchers analyzed gene transcripts to identify overexpressed and down-regulated genes, in addition to looking at non-mutational, or epigenetic, changes that can affect gene regulation. In some of the tumors in the study, they found specific histone variants that can regulate gene expression, noting that histone modification at HPV integration events was correlated with the upregulation of nearby genes and endogenous retroviruses.

Ojesina explains that this study fills in gaps in the Cancer Genome Atlas, which is severely lacking data on cervical cancers in sub-Saharan Africa. Hinting at the inequity in cancer databases, Ojesina comments that the study "is novel for the identification of unique genomic features associated with the African cohort compared with The Cancer Genome Atlas."

Photo: Pixabay

"Large-scale genomics studies like this are important," conclude the study’s co-authors, "particularly in under-represented ancestry groups, to understand molecular phenotypes of these cancers, which can lead to improved treatment options."

The study was published in Nature Genetics under the title, "Analysis of Ugandan cervical carcinomas identifies human papillomavirus clade-specific epigenome and transcriptome landscapes."

Sources: Nature Genetics, Eureka Alert

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
AUG 11, 2020
Immunology
Study Reveals the Two Sides of an Immune Molecule
AUG 11, 2020
Study Reveals the Two Sides of an Immune Molecule
Scientists have discovered a key protein that regulates the immune system to fight off infections. Fascinatingly, the pr ...
AUG 19, 2020
Cancer
Testing the Toxicity of CDK Inhibitors and Radiotherapy
AUG 19, 2020
Testing the Toxicity of CDK Inhibitors and Radiotherapy
Drug targets often focus on one thing, inhibiting or activating some critical function in a cell. Cancer drugs are no di ...
AUG 19, 2020
Immunology
Cancer Mutation Improves Chemo Drug Performance
AUG 19, 2020
Cancer Mutation Improves Chemo Drug Performance
When it comes to cancer biomarkers, it’s often the genetic signatures that are associated with poor patient outcom ...
SEP 20, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
New Drug Combo Prolongs Survival with Advanced Kidney Cancer
SEP 20, 2020
New Drug Combo Prolongs Survival with Advanced Kidney Cancer
Biopharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb has found that a new drug combination can reduce death rates among those ...
OCT 06, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
Cannabis Use May Reduce Cancer Risk by 10%
OCT 06, 2020
Cannabis Use May Reduce Cancer Risk by 10%
A recent meta-analysis of 34 studies found that cannabis use may decrease one’s risk of developing certain kinds o ...
OCT 14, 2020
Cancer
Using Plasma Scalpels with Chemotherapy Against Brain Cancer
OCT 14, 2020
Using Plasma Scalpels with Chemotherapy Against Brain Cancer
Cold atmospheric plasma is a relatively new technique that utilizes a tool that generates a sort of plasma scalpel, exce ...
Loading Comments...