Howard University Graduate School

HUGS Research Magazine
and Graduate School Research Archive

INTERVIEW Issue 005

Interview with Dr. Bernard Kwabi-Addo on Breast and Prostate Cancer Research

By Gwendolyn S. Bethea, Ph.D.

Gwendolyn S. Bethea is editor, HUGS Research Magazine

Dr. Bernard Kwabi-Addo
Dr. Bernard Kwabi-Addo, associate professor, biochemistry and molecular biology

Q: Describe the essence of your breast and prostate cancer research.
Dr. Kwabi-Addo: Breast and prostate cancers are among the most commonly diagnosed cancers in women and men, respectively. Because these are major public health issues, my research is focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms causing both diseases with the ultimate goal of identifying markers for early detection of the diseases and ultimately a cure.

Q: Why focus on these two diseases?
Dr. Kwabi-Addo: Because breast and prostate cancers are both linked to hormonal factors and they have similar etiology (similar genetic risk factors causing the diseases) - some epidemiological studies have also reported high risk of prostate cancer in geographic areas where there is high incidence of breast cancer.

Q: What are some of your significant findings?
Dr. Kwabi-Addo: Both diseases are heterogenous, multiple genetic factors cause the diseases; we now know that there are sub-types of breast cancer. There are screening tools for both PSA and mammography for prostate and breast cancer, respectively, although there are some sensitivity and specificity issues for both screening tools. Because we know a lot about the biology of both diseases as hormone dependent, there are therapies based on hormone inhibition that have been used to successfully treat breast and prostate cancer patients. For example, 500,000 women are still alive because of the use of Tamoxifen treatment. Likewise, Casodex has been successfully used to treat prostate cancer patients. Unfortunately, not all cancer patients respond to this treatment because the diseases are heterogenous and some patients develop resistance to treatment. With the completion of the human genome project, we can now get the molecular profile for each cancer patient to specifically target treatment; this is leading to precision or personalized medicine.

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