The biology of cancer disparities: an innate immunity story

  • K. Sean Kimbro, PhD

    Professor, Dept. of Biomedical and Biological Sciences, JLC Biomedical Biotechnology Research Institute, North Carolina Central University


Cancer disparities among persons of African descent are driven by both biological and nonbiological factors. There is evidence in breast cancer that psychosocial factors (environment, socioeconomic status, health behaviors, etc.) have a strong influence on racial mortality. After controlling for these factors, overall phenotypic differences in breast cancer pathology remain even after consideration of geographic ancestry. Current molecular evidence suggests that chronic/reoccurring inflammation, driven I in part by the innate immune pathways, contribute to cancer progression and possible outcomes. It is established that one of the most diverse and least well-characterized genomes in the human family are those individuals of African ancestry. Germline variations in innate immune genes have been retained in the human genome offer enhanced protection against environmental pathogens, and protective innate immune variants against specific pathogens.  We will interrogate the role of innate immune variants as part of the basis for explaining the biology of cancer health disparities of persons of African and European ancestry. Evidence will be presented that suggests that racial/ethnic differences in innate immune programs will explain the ethnic differences in both pro- and antitumor immunity, tumor progression, and prognosis, supporting the phenomenon of racial/ethnic disparities in cancer. This presentation will explore examples of protective innate immune genetic variants that are distributed disproportionately among racial populations and linked with racial/ ethnic disparities of breast and prostate cancer.

Learning Objectives:

1. At the conclusion of this presentation, participants will be able to discuss the role of geographical ancestry and breast and prostate cancer disparities in persons of African descent

2. Participants will assess the role of innate immune variants in cancer disparities in persons of African descent

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