USA Today: What’s to Blame for Certain Cancer Outcomes? New Studies Confirm—Sex Matters
USA Today and HealthDay recently featured Dan Theodorescu, MD, PhD, the PHASE ONE Foundation Distinguished Chair and director of Cedars-Sinai Cancer discussing a study he co-authored that found loss of the Y chromosome in men as they age affects the body’s ability to fight cancer.
Typically, men have one X and one Y chromosome, whereas women have two X chromosomes. As men grow older, they can lose the Y chromosome, which includes the blueprints for certain genes. Theodorescu told USA Today that men with bladder cancers who have lost their Y chromosome fare just as badly as women, who are less likely to develop bladder cancer but more likely to experience worse outcomes from it.
The study authors examined how genes in the Y chromosome express themselves in healthy cells from the bladder lining and used that data to quantify the loss of the Y chromosome in men with cancer. Investigators then reviewed data from two groups of men with invasive bladder cancer. They also examined the growth of bladder cancer cells in mice.
The findings, published in the journal Nature, revealed that the absence of the Y chromosome affects the immune system’s ability to function properly. Without it, T-cells (immune cells) are exhausted and unable to effectively fight cancer, allowing a tumor to grow aggressively, Theodorescu told HealthDay.
Theodorescu told USA Today, “this is not unique to bladder cancer.” He and his co-authors plan to further investigate whether the same effect occurs in other cancers and whether immune therapy could be useful for those patients.
“I’m hoping this paper is going to trigger an avalanche of (other) studies, because I think it's fascinating,” Theodorescu said.