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Study Considers Genetic, Social Contributors to Mortality in Black Breast Cancer Survivors

A Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey-led team reporting in JAMA Network Open explores genetic and social contributors to the racial disparities previously documented in long-term breast cancer outcomes. Focusing on nearly 1,600 Black breast cancer survivors from New Jersey who were diagnosed with breast cancer between the spring of 2005 and spring 2019, the researchers assessed patients' age, genetically ascertained African ancestry proportions, tumor subtype, and neighborhood-based socioeconomic status in relation to all-cause mortality and breast cancer-specific mortality. While enhanced African ancestry corresponded to an uptick in estrogen receptor-negative and triple-negative breast tumors, the authors report, genetic ancestry did not track with all-cause mortality or breast cancer-specific mortality. In contrast, all-cause mortality risk appeared to dip with rising neighborhood socioeconomic status. "In this cohort study of Black female [breast cancer] survivors, higher African ancestry was associated with aggressive tumor subtypes," they write. "Compared with genetic ancestry, mediating pathways related to social environments may be more important for survival in these patients."

The Scan

Positive Framing of Genetic Studies Can Spark Mistrust Among Underrepresented Groups

Researchers in Human Genetics and Genomics Advances report that how researchers describe genomic studies may alienate potential participants.

Small Study of Gene Editing to Treat Sickle Cell Disease

In a Novartis-sponsored study in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that a CRISPR-Cas9-based treatment targeting promoters of genes encoding fetal hemoglobin could reduce disease symptoms.

Gut Microbiome Changes Appear in Infants Before They Develop Eczema, Study Finds

Researchers report in mSystems that infants experienced an enrichment in Clostridium sensu stricto 1 and Finegoldia and a depletion of Bacteroides before developing eczema.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia Treatment Specificity Enhanced With Stem Cell Editing

A study in Nature suggests epitope editing in donor stem cells prior to bone marrow transplants can stave off toxicity when targeting acute myeloid leukemia with immunotherapy.