V Scholar Plus Award- extended funding for exceptional V Scholars
Most cancers occur more often in males than in females. We don’t understand why. It isn’t explained by differences in cigarette smoking, for example. Males have two different “sex chromosomes,” called X and Y. Females have two copies of X, but no Y. We think that the X and Y chromosomes influence cancer risk and might explain why some cancers are more frequent in men. We studied cancer cells and were surprised to find that some patients had an excess of mutations in genes that “live” on the X chromosome. 100% of those patients were men. In this study, we will look at mutations on X and Y from thousands of patients with many types of cancer. Differences between men and women could explain some of the disparity in cancer incidence between the sexes. These findings may be relevant in cancers that are more frequent in men, including leukemia, brain tumors, kidney cancer, and bladder cancer. In addition, we will study these genes in the laboratory, comparing male and female cells. We will ask how sex differences in mutations on the X chromosome contribute to cancer. We hope that our research discovers new ways to prevent or treat cancer. Specifically, we want to understand why men and women might have different rates of developing cancer. This work might lead us to consider that men and women with the same type of tumor might best be treated differently.