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Personal epigenetic 'signatures' found consistent in prostate cancer patients' metastases
Date:1/23/2013

etastatic sites in an individual patient. They identified more than 1,000 regions of the genome where various types of DNA methylation were consistently maintained within their 13 subjects' genomes.

"As they evolve and grow, cancer cells acquire and maintain changes that enable them to continue thriving," says Yegnasubramanian. "We know that cancer cells maintain and pass along genetic changes in the nucleus of cells across metastatic sites, and our research now shows that epigenetic changes also are maintained to nearly the same degree."

The scientists say that the consistent methylation changes they found appear to represent so-called driver changes critical to the cancer's development and could be targets for treatment. By contrast, other methylation changes found only sporadically in the metastatic sites are more likely what are called passenger changes that occur by chance and are less promising as treatment targets or biomarkers than driver changes.

"Our study shows that for prostate cancer, at least, each person develops his own path to cancer and metastasis, and we can find a signature of that path in the epigenetic marks within their tumors," says Yegnasubramanian, who envisions that certain epigenetic changes can be grouped into clusters to be used as biomarkers signaling a lethal cancer.

Yegnasubramanian and his team also plan to study how each of the driver changes work and how they influence cancer metastasis.


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Contact: Vanessa Wasta
wasta@jhmi.edu
410-614-2916
Johns Hopkins Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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