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Most research on multiple myeloma based on people of European descent even though Black men are 3 times more likely to have disease

Although African-American men are three times more likely to be diagnosed with multiple myeloma, most scientific research on the disease has been based on people of European descent, according to a study led by researchers at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

That is problematic considering that African-Americans — the most at-risk population for multiple myeloma — have different genetics that can affect how this type of cancer progresses and what kind of targeted therapies are most effective, said Zarko Manojlovic (above).

For example, in the study of 718 patients, multiple myeloma patients of European descent were six times more likely than their African peers to have mutations in the TP53 gene, a tumor suppressor that helps prevent cancer. African-Americans, on the other hand, experienced heightened mutations in BCL7A, a different tumor suppressor gene.

“A cancer therapy that targets TP53 would not be as effective for African-Americans with multiple myeloma as it would be for a white population because doctors would be trying to fix the wrong mutated gene,” said Manojlovic.

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