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GWU Lab Wins $1.1M to Study Epigenetic Regulators in Pancreatic Cancer

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Investigators at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences have received nearly $1.1 million from the National Cancer Institute to study the role epigenetics plays in pancreatic cancer, GWU said yesterday.

Researchers in Assistant Professor Alexandros Tzatsos' lab will use two recent NCI grants, one for $706,000 and another $374,000 award, to study how epigenetic regulators and epigenetic oncogenic networks are involved in this deadly cancer.

Tzatsos' lab has been investigating a histone demethylase that drives the development of pancreatic cancer and has genetically engineered mouse models to study the role of this epigenetic regulator in vivo.

In addition to genetic alterations, epigenetic mechanisms are important factors in cancer pathogenesis, Tzatsos said in his research project proposals for the NCI grants. These mechanisms are heritable, they drive neoplastic progression, and undergo the same selective pressures as genetic alterations. Because they can behave similarly to genetic alterations, such epigenetic mechanisms should lead to new and better therapeutic approaches, he said.