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NIH to Fund Diet and Epigenetics Studies

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Institutes of Health will fund preclinical and clinical studies of how dietary factors affect epigenetics and other processes involved in cancer prevention and development through two new grants, NIH said today.

The "Diet, Epigenetic Events, and Cancer Prevention" program will fund studies through R01 grants with funding that reflect the needs of the project for up to five years, and through R21 grants with up to $275,000 over two years. Money will from the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and the Office of Dietary Supplements.

These grants also aim to encourage collaborations between nutrition and epigenetic experts to study food components that have cancer-preventative properties and to examine key epigenetic events in cancer processes, such as carcinogen metabolism, cell division, and apoptosis.

Specifically, the goal is to fund clinical and preclinical studies of the impact of diet and dietary supplements on DNA methylation, histone posttranslational modification, noncoding RNA, and other epigenetic processes involved in cancer prevention and development.
Diet has been implicated in many cancer pathways, including DNA repair cell cycle control, apoptosis, inflammation, angiogenesis, said NIH in the funding announcement.

Studies funded under the program could address the following issues: how bioactive food components regulate epigenetic events for cancer prevention; how bioactive food components might alter aberrant epigenetic patterns or events and restore gene function; and how these components might circumvent or compensate for genes and pathways that are altered by epigenetic events.

Specific research areas could include studies of gene/region specific changes in DNA methylation and histone acetylation/methylation caused by bioactive food components, or calories and impact of such modifications on phenotype; the relationships between dietary induced global DNA hypomethylation and gene-specific hypermethylation; the relationship between diet-induced changes in DNA methylation and histone acetylation/methylation and control of gene function; temporality in DNA methylation patterns as influenced by bioactive food agents; bioactive food component regulation of epigenetic processes; linkages between DNA methylation or other epigenetic pattern as a result of environmental exposures; bioactive food component modulation of ncRNA in cancer pathways; interactions between ncRNAs and histone modifications or DNA methylation; and impacts of chronic alcohol consumption and the relationships between DNA methylation and cancer.

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