BUSM researchers study epigenetic mechanisms of tumor metastasis for improved cancer therapy

A review article by researchers at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) suggests that epigenetics may be a useful target to stop the growth, spread and relapse of cancer. The findings are published online in Volume 14 of the International Journal of Molecular Science.

The term epigenetics refers to the external modifications to DNA that turn genes "on" or "off." These modifications do not change the DNA sequence, but instead, they affect how cells read genes.

The researchers propose that epigenetic and other changes mediate the development of progenitor cells. These cells represent the early stage of cancer cell development and can grow rapidly to become full-fledged cancer. According to the researchers, progression of different cancer stages and development of metastatic potential requires differentiation of these cancer progenitor cells.

"These findings are not only important in understanding how cancer progresses, but also help in understanding how cancer progenitor cells grow and differentiate via epigenetic regulators," said Sibaji Sarkar, PhD, instructor of medicine at BUSM.

Mutated cells are more vulnerable to the environment. Some of these mutations may alter epigenetic regulation in addition to epigenetic changes occurring by external and internal influences, which impacts gene expression and regulates cell behavior, playing a profound role when normal cells develop into progenitor .

Sarkar and his colleagues hypothesize that when the progenitor cancer metastasize, rapid growth halts. When differentiation is complete, the rapid growth resumes.

The researchers believe that are involved in this process. Once a degree of metastatic form of cancer is achieved, the genes, which cause the change, become inactive and the causing rapid growth are again turned on.

"The acknowledgement of as key regulators of this switching is expected to generate better epigenetic drugs. It has been suggested that epigenetic drug treatment in combination with standard chemotherapeutic drugs may have better outcomes in preventing and treating drug-resistant cancers," he added.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New epigenetic mechanisms for improved cancer therapy

Feb 19, 2013

A review article by researchers at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) proposes a new epigenetic hypothesis linked to tumor production and novel ideas about what causes progenitor cells to develop into cancer cells. ...

Homing in on developmental epigenetics

Aug 23, 2013

Germ cells have unique molecular features that enable them to perform the important task of transmitting genetic information to the next generation. During development from their embryonic primordial state, ...

Recommended for you

FOLFOXIRI plus bevacizumab ups outcome in metastatic CRC

9 hours ago

(HealthDay)—For patients with untreated metastatic colorectal cancer, chemotherapy with fluorouracil, leucovorin, oxaliplatin, and irinotecan (FOLFOXIRI) plus bevacizumab improves outcome versus fluorouracil, ...

Cancer exosome 'micro factories' aid in cancer progression

13 hours ago

Exosomes, tiny, virus-sized particles released by cancer cells, can bioengineer micro-RNA (miRNA) molecules resulting in tumor growth. They do so with the help of proteins, such as one named Dicer. New research from The University ...

User comments