Genomics and epigenomics: new promises of personalized medicine for cancer patients

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Abstract

Recent years have brought about a marked extension of our understanding of the somatic basis of cancer. Parallel to the large-scale investigation of diverse tumor genomes the knowledge arose that cancer pathologies are most often not restricted to single genomic events. In contrast, a large number of different alterations in the genomes and epigenomes come together and promote the malignant transformation. The combination of mutations, structural variations and epigenetic alterations differs between each tumor, making individual diagnosis and treatment strategies necessary. This view is summarized in the new discipline of personalized medicine. To satisfy the ideas of this approach each tumor needs to be fully characterized and individual diagnostic and therapeutic strategies designed. Here, we will discuss the power of high-throughput sequencing technologies for genomic and epigenomic analyses. We will provide insight into the current status and how these technologies can be transferred to routine clinical usage.

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