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Jay Bradner's All About the Epigenetics


In Nature, Amy Maxmen profiles Dana-Farber Cancer Institute researcher Jay Bradner, who says the way to fight cancer is to control epigenetics and essentially make cancer cells forget what their purpose is. "Findings over the past 10 years have strongly implicated dysregulation of epigenetic instructions in cancer, where growth-driving genes express like crazy and genes that keep cell division in check are silenced," Maxmen says. "Bradner's aim is to create a drug that can rewrite those instructions so that cancer cells forget what they are and cease their deadly proliferation."

This approach, Bradner suggests, could inhibit the cancer driver Myc, which has been implicated in up to 70 percent of human cancers, but has so far been found to be undruggable. "Researchers in Bradner's lab have developed a compound that interferes with Myc by manipulating epigenetic instructions," Maxmen adds. In the spirit of open research and widespread collaboration, the molecule, called JQ1, has been sent to more than 250 labs and work done on it has resulted in at least 10 published studies, she says.

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