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Pharmacogenomics. 2006 Jul;7(5):747-57.

Epigenetics: an emerging technology in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

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St Bartholomew's Hospital, Department of Medical Oncology, London, UK.


Transcriptional silencing resulting from changes in epigenetic regulation of gene expression is the most frequent mechanism by which tumor suppressor genes are inactivated in human cancer. Genes participating in numerous functional groups and pathways leading to malignancy are subject to aberrant CpG methylation, with associated downregulation of expression, in human carcinogenesis. Methylation profiling can identify distinct subtypes of common human cancers and may have utility in predicting clinical phenotypes in individual patients, including sensitivity to chemotherapeutic agents. Hypomethylating agents have clinical activity in some hematological malignancies, and there is accumulating evidence correlating clinical response with demethylation and concomitant reactivation of expression of specific target genes. Epigenetic analysis is likely to have an increasingly important part to play in the diagnosis, prognostic assessment and treatment of malignant disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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