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Study details epigenomic changes in melanoma
June 2015
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LEUVEN, Belgium—Gene-regulatory or epigenomic changes, external factors that change the body’s process of carrying out the genetic orders programmed in DNA, can alter the stream of information between DNA and a cell without altering the DNA itself. KU Leuven researchers Prof. Stein Aerts and Prof. Chris Marine recently confirmed that epigenomic changes play a significant role in the development and progression of melanoma. Melanoma’s malignancy is attributed to a subpopulation of cells in the tumor that cause cancer progression and metastasis, the researchers say, cells that also increase the tumor’s resistance to cancer drugs. The study found that these subpopulations arise as a result of epigenomic changes. The team was able to map the epigenomic landscape of both phases of melanoma progression (growth and metastasis), identifying the responsible proteins and the regions of DNA where they bind, and found that knocking out those proteins lowered the melanoma’s aggressiveness and drug resistance.

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