Pharma Strategy Blog

Commentary on Pharma & Biotech Oncology / Hematology New Product Development

Posts tagged ‘HDAC’

Recently, epigenetics has been very much to the forefront with promising new human data in lung and breast cancers.

Nature Medicine

This morning I was therefore thrilled to see some exciting work just published in Nature Medicine Online First from Ray DuBois’s lab at MD Anderson Cancer Center, on the potential role of inflammation and silencing of tumour suppressor genes in early colorectal cancer. Previously, the group looked at the role of COX-2 in intestinal inflammation and colorectal cancer and observed that:

“A large body of evidence indicates that genetic mutations, epigenetic changes, chronic inflammation, diet and lifestyle are the risk factors for CRC.”


Last week I had an enjoyable time at the AACR-EORTC-NCI Molecular Targets meeting but gippy wifi in San Francisco followed by my blog hosting and RSS feed going haywire meant that reviews of the meeting were delayed until now. There are a couple of interesting topics that emerged during the meeting that I’m going to explore in extended posts this week.

Today’s review looks at new breast cancer data from the conference. There were two things that stood out for me:

  • The role of epigenetics in advanced ER/PR+ breast cancer
  • New potential targets for inflammatory breast cancer (IBC)

A couple of articles in the latest Cancer Discovery looked at some rather promising, and perhaps a little unexpected, findings pertaining to epigenetic therapy.

What are epigenetics?

If you read up on epigenetics in the medical journals, you will come across some of the most dense and complex articles I’ve ever come across in cancer biology. That said, there are a few readable examples around such as Bird’s (2007) short insight piece in Nature.

Personally, I tend to think of epigenetics – in very simple terms – as changes in gene function that can occur without a change in the sequence of the DNA. This means that we see things such as DNA methylation (where something new is added) and gene silencing (where something important is somehow switched off or lost). A classic change in cancer that often appears in many tumour types is PTEN loss, for example.

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