UEA launches project to better detect prostate cancer in Black men

Published by  News Archive

On 5th Jul 2022

A Black man speaks to a health professional

Researchers at the University of East Anglia, Imperial College NHS Healthcare Trust and Oxford Biodynamics are developing a new genetic blood test for prostate cancer in Black men - who are twice as likely to develop and die of the disease than white men.

The project will see researchers combine DNA testing with AI to create the new test – thanks to funding from Prostate Cancer Research.

The team hope that their technology could one day be used to screen for prostate cancer among Black men, as well as better diagnose other racial groups, for a wide range of cancers.  

Lead researcher Prof Dmitry Pshezhetskiy, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said: “In the UK there is a racial disparity in prostate cancer, where Black patients are twice as likely to develop the disease and die of it than white men.

“Recent research shows that this staggering racial difference for prostate cancer diagnosis and mortality is due to genetic differences, but their exact nature is currently not known.

“We want to create a fundamentally new, highly accurate genetic blood test for prostate cancer in Black men, taking into account their genetic diversity.

“Developing tailored genetic testing is really important because getting an early diagnosis allows better treatment. The five-year survival rate for men diagnosed with stage one prostate cancer is 100 per cent, compared with only 50 per cent for those with stage four cancer.”

The team’s previous research has shown that prostate cancer tumours leave a genetic imprint on blood cells, and that this can be detected using a PCR technique, much like a Covid test.

The new project is the first of its kind and will look for specific genetic imprints in the blood of Black patients and compare them to their white counterparts, and a control group without cancer.

Urology consultant Dr Mathias Winkler, Mathias from Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “Prostate cancer in Black men is twice as common as in white men. 

"We are poised to help Black men with finding their prostate cancers earlier and treating them better so that these cancers have a minimal impact on quality of life.”

Prof Elena Kulinskaya, from UEA’s School of Computing Sciences, said: “We will use new technology that combines DNA testing with machine learning algorithms.

“These tests could be performed in most hospitals and are rapid, minimally invasive, accurate and cost-effective, so they could be used for cancer screening – leading to early identification of patients that would be otherwise missed,

“We hope that the advent of such tests will provide significant opportunities to tackle racial disparity in cancer diagnosis and treatment across other cancers and racial groups,” she added.

This project has been made possible thanks to a grant from Prostate Cancer Research.

Prostate Cancer Research has committed to funding at least three rounds of targeted projects which will explore solutions to the racial disparity within prostate cancer over the next three years, as part of a broader health inequities programme which also focuses on health literacy and data.

Dr Naomi Elster, Director of Research at Prostate Cancer Research, said: “This important work led by Prof Pshezhetskiy is not only advancing our technology, it’s making sure that the most cutting-edge technology takes diversity into account so that it will work for everyone.

“There is a real need for a new way to diagnose prostate cancer, as the PSA blood test we currently use is not as accurate as we want, rectal exams are invasive and people understandably are not comfortable with them, and imaging techniques such as MRI require specialist equipment that may not always be available. We see real potential in this targeted genetic test.”

Latest News

 
View from an airplane over the Arctic.
11 Aug 2022

Arctic flights to shed light on sea ice and storms link

Scientists from the University of East Anglia are spending the summer flying research aircraft through the heart of Arctic storms.

Read more >
 
A whirlpool of water.
10 Aug 2022

New quantum whirlpools with tetrahedral symmetries discovered in a superfluid

An international collaboration of scientists has created and observed an entirely new class of vortices - the whirling masses of fluid or air.

Read more >
 
Dr Leticia Yulita
09 Aug 2022

Language and intercultural expert awarded highest teaching accolade

Dr Leticia Yulita, who teaches Spanish and Intercultural Communication in the School of PPL, has been awarded a National Teaching Fellowship, the highest...

Read more >
 
The Thames riverbed impacted by drought
03 Aug 2022

Why we could be heading for a drought and what we can do about it

England and Wales have seen the driest start of the year since 1976 and it has raised concerns that the UK could be heading for a drought.

Read more >
Are you searching for something?
 
The Thames riverbed impacted by drought
03 Aug 2022

Why we could be heading for a drought and what we can do about it

England and Wales have seen the driest start of the year since 1976 and it has raised concerns that the UK could be heading for a drought.

Read more >
 
UEA campus
28 Jul 2022

UEA campus wins sixth straight international Green Flag Award

UEA campus has won the internationally renowned Green Flag award for a sixth year in succession. 

Read more >
 
Bluegrass under the sea.
28 Jul 2022

Carbon removal using ‘blue carbon’ habitats “uncertain and unreliable”

Restoring coastal vegetation – so called ‘blue carbon’ habitats – may not be the nature-based climate solution it is claimed to be, according to a new study.

Read more >
 
A woman wearing a plastic face shield.
28 Jul 2022

Face shields don’t give high level Covid protection, study shows

If you wore a face shield during the pandemic, it probably didn’t give you a high level of protection against Covid, according to new research from the...

Read more >
 
An Indian woman uses a washing machine.
22 Jul 2022

Gender pay gap linked to unpaid chores in childhood

Young women and girls' time spent in unpaid household work contributes to the gender pay gap, according to new research from the Universities of East Anglia...

Read more >
 
Prof Andy Jordan
22 Jul 2022

UEA professor receives prestigious British Academy fellowship for a lifetime devoted to climate change

Prof Andy Jordan, Professor of Environmental Policy at the University of East Anglia (UEA), has joined the likes of Dame Mary Beard and Sir Simon Schama in being...

Read more >