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Medical News & Perspectives |

Epigenetic Therapies Offer New Approach to Fighting Cancer at the Genetic Level

M. J. Friedrich
JAMA. 2010;303(3):213-214. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.1914.
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Boston—In recent years, cancer researchers have begun to decipher how epigenetic changes, which alter gene activity without altering DNA sequence, collaborate with genetic mistakes to promote tumor development and progression. Now they are applying this information to devise new approaches to prevent and control cancer.

Three drugs that target epigenetic pathways are now used in the clinic to treat hematologic malignancies, and many more agents are in the pipeline. Oncologists are taking lessons learned at the bedside back to the bench to better understand how these therapies work and how resistance to them develops, said Jean-Pierre Issa, MD, professor of medicine at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

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Because attachment of methyl groups to DNA can play a role in the development of cancer, scientists are studying the potential anticancer activity of agents that inhibit DNA methylation.

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