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What it might take to unravel the 'lean mean machine' that is cancer
Date:2/23/2010

tumour cell is very different from the healthy cell. It also tells us that it works in a programmed rather than a random way, and that it targets a significant part of the genome, rather than just single genes."

"It tells us that treating cancer will be far more complex than we imagined, as it will first involve understanding and reversing epigenetic change."

The findings are timely in that they coincide with very recent events and publications that have brought the concepts of the 'epigenome' and 'epigenetics' into world focus. In January 2010 the International Human Epigenome Consortium (IHEC) was launched in Paris (with Professor Clark on the interim steering Committee). Time magazine ran a feature on epigenetics in January, and Nature published two articles on the subject this month: one addressing the importance of IHEC and the urgency of pooling international mind power and resources; the other describing the infinite complexity of the project orders of magnitude more challenging than the Human Genome Project.

The ultimate aim of IHEC is to produce a map of the human epigenome. The initial intention is to map 1,000 epigenomes within a decade. This will provide a healthy tissue base against which to compare the epigenomes of diseased tissue.

The Human Genome Project, completed in March 2000, found that the human genome contains around 25,000 genes. It took 3 billion US dollars to map them. 1

We do not yet know how many variations the human epigenome is likely to contain certainly millions as a single person could have many epigenomes in a lifetime, or even in a day. 2 The technological advances and computational power necessary to map the epigenome, therefore, remain incalculable.

The project at Garvan involved an initial bioinformatics phase; a comparative tissue analysis phase; and a data analysis phase.

The bioinformatics phase analysed publicly available microarray datasets (glass slides co
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Contact: Alison Heather
a.heather@garvan.org.au
61-292-958-128
Research Australia
Source:Eurekalert

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