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GEN Tech Focus: Epigenetics

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Epigenetics is transforming research focused on developing novel cancer diagnostics and therapeutics. New discoveries on DNA methylation, histone modification, nucleosome remodeling, and RNA-mediated targeting are providing critical insights into the genesis of cancer.

Unpacking the Epigenetics of Cancer

Chromatin–associated factors play an important role in the epigenetic regulation of gene expression. These factors include various proteins that contribute to chemical alteration of DNA or histones, as well as those that control chromatin structure at the nucleosome level. A single defect in a chromatin factor can potentially affect the expression patterns of several hundred target genes, resulting in the disruption of multiple cellular pathways.

Environmental Epigenetic Evolutionary Chain’s Genetic Link

Environmental factors, epigenetic changes, and genetic mutations form a chain that spans generations, contributing to disease and evolution. And a key link in this chain is genomic instability. According to a new study, genomic instability that connects back to exposure-specific epigenetic change may, through germline inheritance, lead to genetic mutations—specifically, copy number variations—that become apparent only after several generations have passed

Think Epigenetically, Act Therapeutically

In the words of Nobel Prize winner Albert Szent-Györgyi, “Discovery consists of looking at the same thing as everyone else and thinking something different.” Could discovery as understood by Szent-Györgyi be happening in studies of the human genome?

Common Epigenomic Fingerprint Found in Multiple Cancers

When cancer manipulates the genome, it leaves behind epigenetic marks, a telltale pattern of turned on and turned off genes. The pattern amounts to a kind of fingerprint. Not only does this pattern differ from the pattern seen in healthy cells, it is also common to various kinds of cancerous cells, even those in different developmental stages.

Epigenetic Biomarkers and Clinical Trials

Epigenetics is currently an amorphous discipline, but there is a definite push toward development and commercialization of diagnostics and therapeutics. The focus of this GEN Market & Tech Analysis report is to present some of our recent industry tracking of the epigenetics clinical trials and biomarker signatures space.

 

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