Are there cancers that disproportionately affect men? Elizabeth Tracey reports


A mouse model for colon cancer has identified a gene that is carried on the Y chromosome, so it only affects males. Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer director William Nelson says understanding this gene’s impact may point the way to new treatments for the disease.

Nelson: What it appeared to regulate was the junctions between the normal cells in the colon or loosen the junctions, which lets all kinds of things through, including fragments of bacteria that stimulate immune responses. It promotes invasiveness, reduces killing by the immune system. What this would suggest is that if you could design a drug that would stop this enzyme you might seal up these junctions, reduce invasiveness and augment killing by the immune system.  :30

Nelson says conditions like prostate cancer of course only affect men, and cancers of the lung are also more likely, but that’s largely because of behaviors like smoking. He says this is the first instance he’s aware of that is linked to the Y chromosome. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.