Clinical OMICS

JAN-FEB 2019

Healthcare magazine for research scientists, labs, pathologists, hospitals, cancer centers, physicians and biopharma companies providing news articles, expert interviews and videos about molecular diagnostics in precision medicine

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Page 46 of 51 January/February 2019 Clinical OMICs 45 European populations. "When we looked at gastrointestinal cancers, what we found is that there were zero studies in non-whites." The problem with that, Landry said, is that it doesn't reflect what is going on clinically with those dis- eases in those populations. "In colon cancer alone, there is a clear and persistent burden in African American popu- lations in terms of disease outcomes." This lack of genetic diversity in databases and in studies is already widening disparities when it comes to understand- ing genetic causes of diseases. As genetic tests have become increasingly complex over the years, the results Landry delivers have gone from binary 'yes' or 'no' results to, in the case of cancer, genetic profiles of tumors. New tests have also identified a new result category, 'variant of unknown significance,' which is more common in non-white patients. For example, Landry and her colleagues published a study in JAMA Cardiology in April 2018 that found a significantly higher positive detection rate and a significantly lower rate of inconclusive results in white individuals in comparison with underrepresented minorities. The authors hypothe- sized that the observed lack of utility of genetic testing in these patients may be the result of the lack of clinical test- ing and research in underrepresented populations. "There is less research across the board in non-white populations. We may not be identifying all of the genes in non-white popula- tions because we haven't studied them," Landry said. Achieving Equity Luis Carvajal-Carmona, Ph.D., is among researchers attempt- ing to rectify that kind of genomic inequity in basic and clin- ical research. Carvajal-Carmona is an associate professor of biochemistry and molecular medicine at the University of California (UC) Davis School of Medicine, and a member of the medical school's Genome Center. He specializes in studying gastric cancers in Latino populations. In Septem- ber 2018, Carvajal-Carmona and his colleagues received a $6.3 million grant from the NCI's Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities for a five-year study to tease out why some ethnic and racial minority groups fare worse than whites when they get cancer. The goal of the research is to find precision medicine-based treatments to improve these populations' chances of survival. "Minority patients have the worst cancer outcomes for multiple reasons. One of them is because they come in with more advanced tumors because many don't have proper access to health care," Car- (continued on next page) The lack of diversity in genomics databases is creating a barrier to delivering precision medicine to patients who are not causcasians of European descent. TVP Inc / DigitalVision / Getty Images

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