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Cancer in African populations

Discovering genetic variants which drives the development of oesophageal, breast and cervical cancer in African populations

These studies aim to discover genetic variants which are driving the development of oesophageal, breast and cervical cancer in African populations, and to identify mutational signatures which may provide clues to environmental mutagens involved in oesophageal cancer. These studies are headed by Professor Chris Mathew.

Current projects:

  • Identifying genetic markers of susceptibility to African oesophageal cancer

Oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) is common in Black populations of sub-Saharan Africa, with high incidence regions in East and South Africa. Clinical presentation in Africa is late, and treatment is mainly palliative with a very poor prognosis. Various environmental risk factors have been identified, but the possible contribution of genetics to disease risk is an important question which is unresolved. The main aim of this project is to test the hypothesis that genetic variation in the South African Black population contributes significantly to the risk of this type of cancer. This project is funded by the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA).

  • Evolving Risk Factors for Cancers in African Populations (ERICA-SA): Lifestyle, Infection, Genetic Susceptibility and Cancer in South Africa: Development of Research Capacity and an Evidence Base for Cancer Control

This aims to understand the aetiology, presentation and progression of non-communicable diseases in African patients. This is a Newton/SAMRC funded project (ERICA-SA) on the genetics of African cancers and is led by Prof Chris Mathew and Dr Elvira Singh of the National Cancer Registry.

  • The genomics of African oesophageal cancer

Prof Chris Mathew is a collaborator along with Dr Pascal Willem and others on a bigger project funded through Newton/SAMRC grant that was awarded to Prof Iqbal Parket of the University of Cape Town as the Principal Investigator.

Cancer Genomics Research Group

Pharmaceutical Genomics for Africa (GenoPharmA)

These studies aim to understand the genomic diversity of African populations important in drug response. The research spans the whole value chain from discovery genomics, biochemical evaluation to clinical studies. The ultimate aim of these studies is to deliver precision medicine for improved treatment outcomes concerning drug safety and efficacy. More information will be provided as the project progresses.