Epigenetics in cancer: Fundamentals and Beyond

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Abstract

Activation of oncogenes or the deactivation of tumor suppressor genes has long been established as the fundamental mechanism leading towards carcinogenesis. Although this age old axiom is vastly accurate, thorough study over the last 15 years has given us unprecedented information on the involvement of epigenetic in cancer. Various biochemical pathways that are essential towards tumorigenesis are regulated by the epigenetic phenomenons like remodeling of nucleosome by histone modifications, DNA methylation and miRNA mediated targeting of various genes. Moreover the presence of mutations in the genes controlling the epigenetic players has further strengthened the association of epigenetics in cancer. This merger has opened up newer avenues for targeted anti-cancer drug therapy with numerous pharmaceutical industries focusing on expanding their research and development pipeline with epigenetic drugs. The information provided here elaborates the elementary phenomena of the various epigenetic regulators and discusses their alteration associated with the development of cancer. We also highlight the recent developments in epigenetic drugs combining preclinical and clinical data to signify this evolving field in cancer research.

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