Discovery of oral cancer biomarkers could save thousands of lives

ScienceDaily | 4/16/2019 | Staff
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Researchers from the University of Otago, New Zealand, and the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), Kolkata, have discovered epigenetic markers that are distinctly different in oral cancer tissues compared to the adjacent healthy tissues in patients.

Co-author Dr Aniruddha Chatterjee, of Otago's Department of Pathology, says finding these biomarkers is strongly associated with patient survival.

Epigenetics - Influences - Gene - Expression - Mechanism

Epigenetics (non-genetic influences on gene expression) is a powerful mechanism capable of altering gene expression in cancer cells without changes to the DNA sequence, and can cause tumour progression.

"This phenomenon is relatively new and under studied, particularly in oral cancer. This study is one of the first to identify epigenetic markers in oral cancer, using cutting-edge approaches," he says.

Study - Journal - Epigenomics - Team - Cancer

For the study, published in journal Epigenomics, the team recruited 16 oral cancer patients in India, who were either tobacco smokers or chewers or of mixed habits, and took samples of both tumour and normal, adjacent tissue from them.

After isolating the DNA in the samples, the researchers discovered regions with altered epigenetic profiles in tumour cells compared to normal cells.

Mechanism - DNA - Methylation - Addition - Methyl

They looked at one epigenetic mechanism, DNA methylation, which refers to the addition of methyl groups to DNA, like bookmarks. How these bookmarks are arranged could dictate the expression of genes and the spread of abnormal cells.

"By validating in a larger cancer cohort, we have shown that a subset of these biomarkers is significantly associated with poor prognosis of patients," Dr Chatterjee says.

Findings - Thousands - Lives - Cancer - Cells

The findings could help save thousands of lives by identifying cancer cells...
(Excerpt) Read more at: ScienceDaily
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