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The Prostate Cancer Foundation has awarded $225,000 across three years to UNC Lineberger’s Catherine C. Coombs, MD, to study whether genetic mutations that accumulate in the blood over time are linked to worse outcomes for prostate cancer.

Catherine Coombs, MD, is an associate member at UNC Lineberger and assistant professor in the UNC School of Medicine.
UNC Lineberger’s Catherine Coombs, MD, is an assistant professor in the UNC School of Medicine.

Coombs, an assistant professor in the UNC School of Medicine Division of Hematology/Oncology, received the Young Investigator Award for the project.

The foundation created the award program in order to identify a cohort of future research leaders “who will keep the field of prostate cancer research vibrant with new ideas,” according to the organization’s website.

In her project, Coombs will study clonal hematopoiesis, which is an age-related condition in which patients accumulate mutations in groups of blood cells. These mutations increase the patient’s risk for blood cancers and cardiovascular disease.

In her study, she’s planning to study the relationship between the presence of these mutations and prostate cancer outcomes, as well as response to treatments.

She’s also planning to investigate whether clonal hematopoiesis is linked with worse side effects.

“If successful, this project will determine whether and how the presence of (clonal hematopoiesis) may lead to worse outcomes in men with prostate cancer, and determine if these patients may benefit from interventions targeting CH or more aggressive management of modifiable risk factors such as hyperlipidemia, hypertension, and smoking,” according to a posted summary of the project.