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The Epigenetic Mark on Cancer


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.

The Scan

Shape of Them All

According to BBC News, researchers have developed a protein structure database that includes much of the human proteome.

For Flu and More

The Wall Street Journal reports that several vaccine developers are working on mRNA-based vaccines for influenza.

To Boost Women

China's Ministry of Science and Technology aims to boost the number of female researchers through a new policy, reports the South China Morning Post.

Science Papers Describe Approach to Predict Chemotherapeutic Response, Role of Transcriptional Noise

In Science this week: neural network to predict chemotherapeutic response in cancer patients, and more.