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The Epigenetic Mark on Cancer

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Epigenetic regulation has been linked to cancer, and The Economist notes that epigenetic processes "are susceptible to chemical intervention in a way that genetic mutations are not" — they could be affected by drugs. The Economist points to two recent talks given at the American Association for Cancer Research meeting in Chicago that described inhibitors that affect epigenetic regulation, though neither is ready to come to market. Two epigenetic drugs are being sold, The Economist says, and a recent study from Stephen Baylin at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine shows that combining an epigenetic drug with chemotherapy slowed tumor growth. "It might therefore be that epigenetic therapies can effect changes which stop a cancer growing without having to kill all its cells," Baylin says.

"That is quite possible," The Economist writes. "Unlike other forms of gene regulation (those involving transcription factors, for example), epigenetic changes are passed on during cell division to daughter and granddaughter cells until they are actively erased."

Cancer Minute has further coverage of AACR here.

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