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Thread: Epigenetic cancers

  1. #1 Epigenetic cancers 
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    Reference : New Scientist, 2 August 2014, page 10

    Cancers may arise due to the addition of methyl groups to certain bits of DNA. For example : a study on mice showed that adding methyl groups (methylation) to a section of DNA that makes a protein called p16, will dramatically increase the number of cancer tumours.

    It is suggested that such methylation may be caused by environmental effects such as smoking or harmful chemicals from other sources. It is also possible that some foods may reverse this methylation. eg. broccoli. These findings will likely result in drugs to counter the methylation.

    There is another protein, called p53, that normally counters cancers by causing mutated cells to wither and die. But the gene that makes p53 can itself be mutated, so that it makes a slightly different protein, called p53 psi. This new and damaging protein seems to actually stimulate and drive cancerous growth. This opens new opportunities for therapy, since drugs exist that attack p53 psi. Trials will soon be underway to check this out.

    This research may result both in new and effective anti-cancer drugs, and in new ways we can adjust lifestyle to reduce our chances of getting cancer in the first place.


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