A new study from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center is showing the loss of the Y chromosome assists cancer cells in avoiding detection by the body's immune system. Aging men can lose the Y chromosome during cell division. In some older men, more than 4 out of 5 white blood cells lack a Y chromosome. Loss of the Y chromosome is shown to be heavily associated with several diseases and cancers in aging men.
The Ceders-Sinai Medical Center concluded that tumors that lack the Y chromosome grow at a much faster rate and are more aggressive, but are also more vulnerable to immune checkpoint inhibitors. This knowledge could provide an explanation as to certain cancers are worse in men than women. It can also help physicians with treatment pathways and help with the research for alternative tumor treatment.
For example, T-cell exhaustion is a condition in which T cells lose their ability to kill certain cells, weakening the immune system's fight against cancers and other diseases. If we understood the genetic connection between losing the Y chromosome and T-cell exhaustion, we could potentially find a way to prevent it from occurring altogether.