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Cancer Manag Res. 2011;3:117-41. doi: 10.2147/CMR.S9661. Epub 2011 May 9.

Interpreting clinical assays for histone deacetylase inhibitors.

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  • 1Laboratory of Bioactive Molecules, Institute of Chemistry, University of Nice - Sophia Antipolis, Parc Valrose, Nice, France;


As opposed to genetics, dealing with gene expressions by direct DNA sequence modifications, the term epigenetics applies to all the external influences that target the chromatin structure of cells with impact on gene expression unrelated to the sequence coding of DNA itself. In normal cells, epigenetics modulates gene expression through all development steps. When "imprinted" early by the environment, epigenetic changes influence the organism at an early stage and can be transmitted to the progeny. Together with DNA sequence alterations, DNA aberrant cytosine methylation and microRNA deregulation, epigenetic modifications participate in the malignant transformation of cells. Their reversible nature has led to the emergence of the promising field of epigenetic therapy. The efforts made to inhibit in particular the epigenetic enzyme family called histone deacetylases (HDACs) are described. HDAC inhibitors (HDACi) have been proposed as a viable clinical therapeutic approach for the treatment of leukemia and solid tumors, but also to a lesser degree for noncancerous diseases. Three epigenetic drugs are already arriving at the patient's bedside, and more than 100 clinical assays for HDACi are registered on the National Cancer Institute website. They explore the eventual additive benefits of combined therapies. In the context of the pleiotropic effects of HDAC isoforms, more specific HDACi and more informative screening tests are being developed for the benefit of the patients.


clinical trials interpretation; epigenetic; histone deacetylase inhibitors

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