Epigenetics is a rapidly expanding field that focuses on stable changes in gene expression that are not accompanied by changes in DNA sequence and that are mediated primarily by DNA methylation and histone modifications. Disruption of the epigenome is a fundamental mechanism in cancer, and several epigenetic drugs that have proved to prolong survival and to be less toxic than conventional chemotherapy were recently approved by the FDA for cancer treatment. These include azacitidine (Vidaza), decitabine (Dacogen), vorinostat (Zolinza), and romidepsin (Istodax). Promising results of combination clinical trials with DNA methylation inhibitors and histone deacetylase inhibitors have recently been reported, and data are emerging that describe molecular determinants of clinical responses. Despite significant advances, challenges remain, including a lack of predictive markers, unclear mechanisms of response and resistance, and rare responses in solid tumors. Preclinical studies are ongoing with novel classes of agents that target various components of the epigenetic machinery. In this review, we focus on recent clinical and translational data in the epigenetics field that have potential in cancer therapy.
|Original language||English (US)|
|State||Published - 2011|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research