September 23, 2014 – : Epigenetics and More Cancers


Anchor lead:  Epigenetic changes are confirmed in several types of cancer, Elizabeth Tracey reports

What do lung, breast, colon and several other cancers have in common?  Research by Andrew Feinberg and colleagues at Johns Hopkins and Harvard has shown a pattern of so-called epigenetic changes is common to all, which could have profound implications for how genes operate in cancer cells.

Feinberg: Things get turned on and turned off somewhat erratically, and that might give cells an advantage in growing as tumors within a person’s body.  We had originally studied colon cancer.  Here we’ve extended that to look at lung cancer, breast cancer, thyroid cancer and pancreatic cancer, and we found the same things are going on in those tumors.  Also that these changes, these large scale changes in the genome that are affecting these big blocks we call it, they occur at the earliest stages of cancer.   :30

Early changes may be useful for early detection sometime down the road, Feinberg says.  At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.