Genome epigenetic analysis reveals new ways to detect and treat breast cancer

April 18, 2016

"I think we can harness epigenetic information to improve cancer care in several ways," Dr Dedeurwaerder said. "Firstly, several lines of evidence suggest that epigenetic dysregulation occurs early during carcinogenesis and can be detected in bodily fluids. Therefore, DNA methylation markers could help to provide an earlier detection of the disease."

"Secondly, it has already been shown that DNA methylation markers might help to better stratify patients in terms of prognosis. Thirdly, such markers could also help to predict response to a given drug."

"Lastly, an epigenetic therapy of cancer, alone or in combination with conventional therapies, is conceivable," Dr Dedeurwaerder said. "Indeed, several drugs have been developed and several clinical trials have already shown promising results, in particular for leukemia."

"In this study, we have generated the largest and most comprehensive DNA methylation dataset for human breast tumor tissues," the researchers conclude. "By laying the ground for better understanding of breast cancer heterogeneity and improved tumor taxonomy, the precise epigenetic portraits drawn in our work should contribute to better management of breast cancer patients."

Commenting the study, which he was not involved in, Prof Fortunato Ciardiello, from Seconda Universit? di Napoli, Naples, Italy, noted that gene expression profiles by microRNA analysis have allowed to identify sub-groups of human breast cancers with different biological behaviors and eventually different prognosis.

"Now, for the first time, whole genome epigenetic analysis reveals, in a large number of human breast cancers, a series of sub-types which could help better define more homogeneous groups, which could be useful to select appropriate and more personalized therapeutic approaches."

Source: Universit? Libre de Bruxelles