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Selcuklu SD, Spillane C
Translational epigenetics: clinical approaches to epigenome therapeutics for cancer.
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Cancer epigenetics research is now entering an exciting phase of translational epigenetics whereby novel epigenome therapeutics is being developed for application in clinical settings. Epigenetics refers to all heritable and potentially reversible changes in gene or genome functioning that occurs without altering the nucleotide sequence of the DNA. A range of different epigenetic "marks" can activate or repress gene expression. While epigenetic alterations are associated with most cancers, epigenetic dysregulation can also have a causal role in cancer etiology. Epigenetically disrupted stem or progenitor cells could have an early role in neoplastic transformations, while perturbance of epigenetic regulatory mechanisms controlling gene expression in cancer-relevant pathways will also be a contribution factor. The reversibility of epigenetic marks provides the possibility that the activity of key cancer genes and pathways can be regulated as a therapeutic approach. The growing availability of a range of chemical agents which can affect epigenome functioning has led to a range of epigenetic-therapeutic approaches for cancer and intense interest in the development of second-generation epigenetic drugs (epi-drugs) which would have greater specificity and efficacy in clinical settings. The latest developments in this exciting arena of translational cancer epigenetics were presented at a recent conference on "Epigenetics and New Therapies in Cancer" at the Spanish National Cancer Research Center (CNIO), Spain.
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