Discipline: Biological Sciences
Subcategory: Cancer Research
Devin N. Jacob - Tuskegee University
Co-Author(s): Roberta M. Troy, Tuskegee University Health Disparities Institute for Diversity and Education, Tuskegee, AL.
Breast Cancer is the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer in women of all races, making it the second leading cause of death among women. Moreover, Caucasian women are diagnosed with breast cancer at a significantly higher rate than African American women. However, the mortality rate of breast cancer in African American women is two times higher than in Caucasian women. The differences observed in incidence and mortality could be attributed to differences in risk factors as they relate to each ethnic group. Recent studies on the human microbiome have shown that changes in the normal microflora or imbalances, referred to as dysbiosis, could play a significant role in disease progression or tumorigenesis as in the case of cancer. Contrary to past beliefs that breasts were entirely sterile, breasts actually possess a unique population of microbes that differ in prevalence and type from the gut microbiome. Changes in number and type of microbes in breast tissue may serve as a key factor in breast carcinogenesis. Additionally, differences in disease progression and mortality rates among various populations of women could be attributed to these alterations in the microbiological environment. Therefore we propose to examine the microbiome of breast tissue in normal and tumor samples from African American and Caucasian women using 16S rRNA sequencing to identify the species of microorganisms. Initially, we will examine and analyze tissue from women in three Black Belt counties in Alabama–Macon, Bullock, and Lowndes. It is anticipated that the comparative data obtained in this study will give insight as to the role of the micro environment in breast cancer development.
Future studies will compare patient data between women in rural areas and women from larger urban cities. We predict that the data will show differences between the microbiome of the patients in the towns of rural Alabama and the larger urban cities nearby. Through data analysis on patient samples, and survey data we will be able to draw further inferences about the heightened cancer risk in African American women in rural areas of Alabama versus urban and formulate a community-based participatory study from our findings.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): This work was funded by the MSM/TU/UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center Partnership [NCI Grant # U54 CA118623].
Faculty Advisor: Roberta Troy, firstname.lastname@example.org