Epigenetics emerges powerfully as a clinical tool

GSTP1 and MGMT: These are case examples for epigenetic profiling in diagnosis and prognosis.

A study coordinated by Manel Esteller, published in Nature Reviews Genetics, highlights the success of this area of research to predict the behavior and weaknesses of tumors.

The research team led by Manel Esteller, director of the Cancer Epigenetics and Biology Program at the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL), professor of genetics at the University of Barcelona and ICREA researcher, has updated the latest findings in applied epigenetics in a review paper published in Nature Reviews Genetics.

There is a growing need for better biomarkers that allow early detection of human diseases, especially cancer. The markers can improve primary prevention, diagnosis and prognosis of disease. Furthermore, it is possible to predict which may be more effective treatment according to patient characteristics, which is known by the name of personalized medicine.

Genetic tests complementary to traditional methods have been used to improve the approach to various diseases, but in the last ten years Epigenetics has hardly emerged to help solve these clinical situations, as highlighted by the article. Epigenetics is the discipline for the study of the in our genetic material and the same . The most known epigenetic mark is the addition of a to the DNA.

The study notes that the last decade two tests based on the methylation of two genes, MGMT and GSTP1, have been proved vital in predicting sensitive to the temozolomide drug and in distinguishing prostate cancer compared benign growth, respectively. Dr. Esteller points out that "the most exciting thing is that they are currently being identified new epigenetic for predicting the performance and weaknesses of tumours at a fast pace." In this sense, the coordinator of the study cites the recent identification of epigenetic alterations in predictive genes as response to new generation drugs in leukaemia and the fact that obtaining a "picture" of the DNA methylation pattern can expose unknown tumours that previously had a very poor prognosis.

More information: Heyn H, Esteller M. DNA methylation profiling in the clinic: applications and challenges. Nature Reviews Genetics, September 4, 2012.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Researchers complete the first epigenome in Europe

May 30, 2012

A study led by Manel Esteller, director of the Epigenetics and Cancer Biology Program at the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL), professor of genetics at the University of Barcelona and ICREA researcher, has ...

Why cancer cells change their appearance?

Sep 02, 2011

Like snakes, tumour cells shed their skin. Cancer is not a static disease but during its development the disease accumulates changes to evade natural defences adapting to new environmental circumstances, protecting against ...

Recommended for you

Infant failure to thrive linked to lysosome dysfunction

Jan 27, 2015

Neonatal intestinal disorders that prevent infants from getting the nutrients they need may be caused by defects in the lysosomal system that occur before weaning, according to a new Northwestern Medicine ...

Gene may open door for improved keloid, scar treatment

Jan 23, 2015

Researchers at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit have identified a gene that may offer a better understanding of how keloid scars develop and potentially open the door to improved treatment for the often painful, ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.