Epigenetic Study Identifies Potential Drug Targets for a Rare Type of Bone Marrow Cancer

April 12, 2022 Natalie Crowley

There are many treatment options for cancer today, yet it continues to be a major health problem, killing hundreds of thousands of people in the US each year. While conventional therapies like chemo and radiation have successfully extended survival rates, they don’t necessarily work for all patients, especially those with late-stage or rare cancers. As a result, more advanced treatments and diagnostic methods are being sought after to stem the cancer death toll. One research area that shows great promise [more…]

A Role for m6A Methylation in the Immune Response of Natural Killer Cells Toward Cancer

November 9, 2021 Natalie Crowley

The body’s first line of defense against infection is the innate immune system. Although it is non-specific and less effective than the acquired immune system, it responds to invading pathogens much faster, holding off an immunological threat until a specific response can be mobilized. One integral part of the innate immune system is natural killer cells (NK). As their name suggests, these cells are capable of killing affected cells autonomously while also signaling an immune response as they secrete pro-inflammatory [more…]

How Inflammation Epigenetically Primes Epithelial Cells to Promote Pancreatic Cancer 

September 28, 2021 Natalie Crowley

Pancreatic cancer may not be as common as some cancers, but it has a bad reputation for being highly fatal, especially since it’s difficult to detect early. Smoking, diabetes, family history, and alcohol abuse are among the top risk factors associated with this disease. While it’s difficult to determine the exact causes of pancreatic cancer, a key mediator in its development is inflammation. Understanding why inflammation might lead to tumor growth in the pancreas has scientists examining the underlying mechanisms [more…]

Epigenetic Alteration Linked To Lung Cancer Relapse

August 3, 2021 Natalie Crowley

Chemotherapy has been the mainstay for lung cancer treatment for decades. Unfortunately, even after an initial positive response to it, tumors can sometimes develop drug resistance. When this happens, there is little doctors can do to improve a patient’s outcome, as the survival rate after relapse can be devastatingly low. Understanding exactly what causes this cancer to rebound has scientists taking a closer look at the genetic diversity of lung tumors, in particular their epigenetic signature. In recent years, genomic [more…]

Epigenetically Awaking Ancient Parts of Our DNA to Fight Cancer

November 3, 2020 Natalie Crowley

Buried within our DNA, there exists a vast amount of dormant genetic material – a remarkable percentage of which consists of ancient inserted elements that have found their way into our genome, only to be silenced for millions of years.  While the origins of most of these obsolete retroelements are not fully known, their inactive status is epigenetically controlled. It has been suggested that “turning on” these parts of our genome could be useful, especially in fighting off certain diseases [more…]

New Drug Targets Epigenetic Mark, May Help Treat Rare Cancer

June 23, 2020 Danton Ivanochko

In 2020, the FDA approved Epizyme’s drug tazemetostat (Brand name: Tazverik) to treat a rare type of solid tumor called epithelioid sarcoma. Tazemetostat targets the epigenetic enzyme EZH2, which is strongly linked to several cancer types. Now, Epizyme is seeking accelerated approval for tazemetostat to treat a common form of blood cancer called follicular lymphoma, and has clinical trials running for several additional cancer types. Cancer is a genetic disease that causes unrestrained cell proliferation. Typically, chemotherapies treat cancer by [more…]

Epigenetic Changes May Trigger Colorectal Cancer in Unhealthy Guts

March 3, 2020 Andrea P

Data from the Global Cancer Observatory (GLOBOCAN) shows that colorectal cancer is the third most lethal cancer in the world. Millions of new cases are diagnosed each year, with a trend that is steadily increasing—and this growth is fastest in countries where the “western diet” is prevalent. Lifestyle factors seem to contribute to some extent. Researchers are scrambling to make sense of exactly how. In fact, a subtype of colorectal cancer is known as sporadic colorectal cancer (CRC) occurs in [more…]

Drug Combination May Epigenetically Help Prevent Breast Cancer

February 11, 2020 Andrea P

Approximately one out of every eight women in the United States will develop breast cancer at some point in their lives. Breast cancer is considered to be the most lethal cancer for women outside of lung cancer. The economic implications of breast cancer are also huge; setting aside the medical costs faced, breast cancer costs a whopping $6.2 billion in lost wages. With no surefire way to universally detect breast cancer early, it can be difficult to intervene early. Treatments must [more…]

Aspirin May Epigenetically Help Prevent Breast Cancer in Some, Enable it in Others

September 17, 2019 Andrea P

Widely lauded for its anti-inflammatory effects, aspirin is often resorted to in regular doses for disease prevention. For example, previous research studies have supported the idea that women who regularly take aspirin and then are diagnosed with breast cancer may live longer, which has perpetuated this as a medical recommendation. However, the latest study out of the University of North Carolina’s Gillings School of Global Public Health shed light on a subgroup of breast cancer patients for whom regular use [more…]

Cancer Genes May Have Been Epigenetically Silenced Over Time

August 6, 2019 Andrea P

The factors contributing to the development of cancer in an individual are often complex and varied. Sometimes they are more straightforward, like when someone carries a specific gene known to indicate cancer risk; for example, specific mutations of BRCA1 or BRCA2 are linked to breast cancer. But usually, these risk factors are not so directly observable, making cancer risk detection—and possibly even cancer prevention—difficult. Any insights into what leads into the development of cancer are therefore critical. It’s not just [more…]

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