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$11.2 Million Grant From NCI to Fund Research on Sex Differences in Bladder Cancer

By: Lauren Velentzas
Posted: Tuesday, August 15, 2023

The Cedars-Sinai Cancer Institute will be spearheading a project, funded by a 5-year grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), to examine the effects of biological differences between men and women with bladder cancer. Xue Li, PhD, principal investigator of the project and co-leader of the Cancer Biology Program at Cedars-Sinai, and colleagues will use the $11.2 million grant to examine sex as a bladder cancer variable from genetic, epigenetic, and immunologic perspectives.

“As part of this work, we also hope to define the fundamental principles that influence cancer risk and to promote cancer research, so investigators begin to take male and female differences into consideration,” said Dr. Li. “We can no longer treat males and females as asexual and ignore these differences,” he added.

The research will be split into three research teams. The X. Li Lab at Cedars-Sinai will examine epigenetic factors that may contribute to bladder cancer’s being three to five times more common in men than women. The Theodorescu Lab at Cedars-Sinai will focus on genetics, particularly the role of the Y chromosome and its loss, in bladder cancer. The Ohio State University’s Zihai Li Lab at the James Comprehensive Cancer Center will investigate how androgen signaling may exhaust T cells, potentially leading to more aggressive cancer.

“At our cancer center, we emphasize awareness of sex and gender across the entire spectrum of cancer research and care, not just bladder cancer,” said Dan Theodorescu, MD, PhD, Director of Cedars-Sinai Cancer and the PHASE ONE Distinguished Chair. “We need to consider this interplay between the biological sex, the epigenome, and the immune system in cancers in order to make the most impactful discoveries for our patients.”

The researchers hope the data gathered from these projects can be used to create future therapies for bladder cancer and to improve patient outcomes.

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