Posts Tagged ‘methylation’

Can Gene Inactivation Prevent Aging and Cancer?

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017

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A new study published in the journal Nature concluded that every body cell contains the complete DNA library and the so called methyl groups regulate the DNA library in tissues so that only the genetic information needed in that tissue is expressed. Now for the first time, researchers verified that a lack of methyl groups in the gene body leads to an incorrect gene activation and, subsequently may lead to the emergence of cancer.

Each body cell contains the entire building plan of the whole organism written in the DNA and comprises single genes that determine the specific attributes of the individual.  Gene expression builds tissue cells with tissue-specific attributes. Thus, genes information is activated that forms cells identified as intestinal cells or lung cells etc. In this regulated process methyl groups play an important role. If they are enzymatically bound to a gene’s starting point, known as the promoter, the respective gene is inactivated and the DNA is methylated. As we age and develop age-related diseases such as cancer the activation of genetic information is increasingly defective. However, until now, the detailed processes of these errors and the role of  DNA methylation  in these processes has been poorly understood.

Researchers have known for some time that DNA methylation at the promoter of a gene functions as an on/off switch. However, it was unknown in epigenetics why DNA within the gene body housing the important genetic information is methylated also which was answered in this research. This research showed that genes also aberrant activated if–beyond promoters–DNA methylation is missing within the gene body. Subsequently aberrant proteins are produced that impinge on the cell structure that result in massive disruption of the function and identity of a cell and cell degradation occurs and cancer may emerge.  Researchers concluded “this new knowledge that a lack of DNA methylation at the gene body  may lead to the production of aberrant proteins, might offer a target for cancer therapy. If we succeed to find a way to traffic methyl groups to non-methylated DNA sequences of cancer cells, we could possibly stop proliferation of these cells.”

Can High Risk Breast Cancer Recurrence Patients be Identified?

Friday, September 25th, 2015


A new study published in the journal Clinical Epigenetics concluded that a new simple blood test might be able to determine the risk of recurrence, or the cancer invading other organs such as the lungs, bone or brain for women successfully treated for breast cancer. Researchers identified 21 DNA hypermethylation hotspots–gene locations along the 3 billion chemical bases of DNA–with increased levels of methylation that could indicate the existence of metastatic cancer.  They said “These findings could lead to a highly sensitive blood-based test panel–a type of liquid biopsy–which could help improve the care of women with breast cancer.” They said further “This 21-gene signature is a potential biomarker that could indicate patients who are at high risk of cancer recurrence, either in the breast or elsewhere in the body, and who might benefit from additional therapy to eliminate the potential of recurrence.” In this study the 21 genes that were differentially methylated were consistently higher in patients with metastatic breast cancer when compared with levels in healthy individuals and cancer free survivors.


Do epigenetics play a role in breast cancer?

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

logo1267406_mdRecently Dr Dawson Church discussed epigenetics on the Holistic Health Show radio.  Recently two research studies on their role in cancer were reported. The link between epigenetics and breast cancer will be briefly discussed here. Science Digest from research that  breast cancer running in families and some genetic predisposition such as being BRAC1 and BRAC2 mutation carriers,  explains only part of the overall occurance of breast cancer in families. It has also been shown that epigenitic changes altering gene expression without affecting the DNA also plays a role in this process.

Researchers have examined whether a specific epigenetic modification called methylation of the DNA can be associated with breast cancer  family history in unaffected women from high risk breast cancer families. Their research shows that the level of DNA methylation in white blood-cells from cancer-free women could be one of the factors playing a role in the cluste4ring of breast cancer in families with extensive cancer histories among its members.

Diet May Protect Against Lung Cancer in Current and Former Smokers

Friday, February 19th, 2010


A new study reported online January 12, 2010 in Cancer Research concluded that leafy green vegetables, folate, and some multivitamins may serve as a protective factor against lung cancer in current and former smokers. This first step in understanding a complex association was funded by the National Cancer Institute.

Researchers studied more than 1,100 current and former smokers who submitted sputum specimens and completed questionaires about their dietary intake. Most of the sample (75%) were women. Sputum samples were examined for the methylation status of eight genes that are linked to the increased risk of lung cancer in previous studies. Gene Methylation is believed to be a major mechanism for lung cancer development and progression and also a potential marker for the early detection of lung cancer.

The researchers investigated the association between 21 dietary variables and methylation and found that higher intakes of leafy vegetables and folate were significantly associated with a reduced probability of high methylation. Additional research is needed to validate these findings.