Insight Into Cancer Genes


clinic-doctor-health-hospitalThere is research performed by scientists and doctors at the University of Southampton and Royal Bournemouth Hospital that have identified a network of genes that are likely to be shared by all patients who have chronic lymphocytic leukemia. (CLL) The study has also identified gene networks associated with patient survival that could be identified as targets for treatment.

Dr. Christoph Bock, a cancer researcher from the CeMM Research Center for Molecular Medicine of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna, led the project in collaboration with Professor Jonathan Strefford of the University of Southampton and CLL clinician, Professor David Oscier from the Royal Bournemouth Hospital which has been published in Nature Communications.

This group of work was studied by an international consortium of biomedical researchers led by the CeMM Research Center that tested the feasibility of epigenetic analysis for clinical diagnostics and precision medicine. There were epigenetic changes that occurred in all cancers and in various other diseases. Upon years of technology development in laboratories around the world, this series of studies showed the accuracy and robustness of epigenetic tests.

A UK team from Southampton and Bournemouth contributed to an international effort to perform the large-scale analysis of the chromatin landscape in human tumors focusing on this occasion, on patients with CLL. Their study has been able to dissect the variability that exists in the epigenome of CLL patients and helped to identify disease specific changes, which hopefully will be informative in distinguishing disease subtypes or identifying suitable treatments. This could open a useful doorway into ways of improving disease diagnosis and more personalized treatment choices for patients in the future.

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia develops at different rates for each patient and some will respond better to treatment than others. The presence of specific genetic faults is being developed to be able to better predict a patient’s progress and it is clear other biological factors do influence outcome. The broader spectrum of how genes behave and interact in the cancer cells could be integrated to more accurately tailor treatment plans for individual patients.
-Dr Fredda Branyon

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