February has been a busy month in Men's Health, with advances in treatment and diagnosis, and new and upcoming events being announced!
New genetic testing algorithm may have a significant impact on prostate cancer treatment
A new more streamlined approach to genetic testing in newly diagnosed prostate cancer patients may have significant benefits in improving treatment and care. Genetic testing can be crucial for some prostate cancer patients because anyone with genetic mutations that can considerably affect their response to treatment can only find out about it by being tested. However, up to now, the number of patients undergoing genetic testing has been relatively low. This is largely because the decision as to when genetic testing was necessary was solely down to individual physicians' judgement, and it required patients to make a separate visit to another facility to receive follow-up counselling for the results.
To increase the number of patients that receive genetic testing, Dr Howard Korman and Dr Kirk Wojno have developed and tested a new algorithm that uses current guidelines to highlight patients that should be submitted for genetic testing. The results of this on-site guideline-based genetic testing raised compliance from 33.6% to 98.7%.1 This could have obvious benefits for improving the care and treatment of prostate cancer patients, although the study sample was limited, and further research is needed, it could be a crucial step forward to improving outcomes in men with prostate cancer.
Severity of COVID-19 in men may be due to the loss of Y chromosome
There’s no doubt that men were disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, both the mortality rate and the number of severe cases of the virus were higher in males than females. Both genetic and behavioural reasons have been cited for this, such as higher levels of drinking and smoking in men, females having a more responsible attitude to COVID-19 precautions (e.g. hand washing), and the generally higher resistance females have to infections.2
However, recent research has also found that there may be a link between the loss of the Y chromosome (LOY) in some of the white blood cells of men and their increased susceptibility to more serious cases of the virus. In a study led by Jan Dumanski, Professor at Uppsala University results found that LOY is associated with the increased severity of the disease and mortality rate in males. Consequently, these findings may suggest that LOY could be used to identify patients with a high risk of developing serious cases of the disease and could be used to provide insight into other viral infections with a male bias.3
- If you’re interested in learning more about Covid-19, you can check out our article on the relationship between ED and Covid here!
Higher levels of naturally occurring anti-Orthopoxvirus neutralizing antibodies found in homosexual men
A recent study conducted by China-based scientists has revealed higher levels of naturally occurring antibodies that fight orthopoxvirus diseases in homosexual men compared to the general population.
A current rise in mpox cases, particularly in the community of men who have sex with men (MSM), has some interestingly different characteristics from previous outbreaks; the disease has been spreading more rapidly and with symptoms similar to sexually transmitted infections. Mpox and smallpox are both contagious diseases caused by the variola virus (a member of the orthopoxvirus family), meaning that vaccinations against smallpox also provide mpox immunity. Since routine smallpox vaccinations were stopped after the eradication of the disease in 1980, one of the potential reasons for the current outbreaks of mpox could be reduced immunity in those born after vaccinations ceased. However, evidence suggests that vaccination and exposure to orthopoxviruses are not the only sources of immunity, some people naturally possess anti-orthopoxvirus antibodies.
The study compared the blood samples of 326 MSM and 295 general adults from China to measure the anti-Monkeypox and anti-vaccinia antibodies. The results showed that anti-Monkeypox antibodies were significantly lower in MSM (born after vaccinations were stopped in 1981), but anti-vaccinia antibodies were considerably higher than in the general population (of the same age).4 These unexpected results have provided an interesting insight into orthopoxvirus immunity, but they have not yet been rigorously tested enough at present to denote conclusive evidence.
Drug triggers immune cells to attack prostate cancer
Prostate cancer is notorious for becoming resistant to certain treatments such as hormone suppression, making some patients extremely difficult to treat. Recent research from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has revealed a drug that may have the potential to treat cases of prostate cancer that have become resistant to this kind of treatment. The drug, called (R)-9b, has been found to be very effective at treating prostate cancer with its multi-pronged attack, it triggers the attack of immune cells, enables the immune cells to penetrate the tumour, and inhibits the ability of the tumour to use testosterone as fuel.5 The impact of this research could have a huge impact on the success of treating prostate cancer. Although the testing of this drug is still in its early stages it could be an important step forward.
- Prostate cancer and testosterone, your in-depth guide here
Upcoming events and webinars
- The Endocrine Society has announced the location of the Endo 2023 conference. Be sure to save the date: June 15–18th, 2023, in Chicago, Illinois. The conference is a hub for leading healthcare professionals in Endocrinology to collaborate and share the latest advancements in research. Find out more here to book your place! https://www.endocrine.org/meetings-and-events/endo2023
- On the 10th–13 March, Milan will host one of the world’s largest urology events, EAU2023! The world-renowned conference offers the opportunity for urologists and healthcare professionals to share the latest advancements in urology research, as well as collaborate with your international peers. Explore the EAU2023 preview here: https://uroweb.org/news/eau23-the-big-scientific-programme-preview
We hope you enjoyed February's Men's Health news, keep an eye out for next month’s edition!
- Ramanathan S, et al. Urology Practice 2022:doi.org/10.1097/UPJ.0000000000000350.
- Bwire GM. SN Compr Clin Med 2020;2,874–876.
- Bruhn-Olszewska B, et al. Genome Med 2022;14:139.
- Feng Y. MedRxiv 2022;doi:https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2022.12.20.22283644v2.
- Sridaran D, et al. Nature Communications, 2022;13(1).