Translating cancer epigenomics into the clinic: focus on lung cancer

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Abstract

Epigenetic deregulation is increasingly being recognized as a hallmark of cancer. Recent studies have identified many new epigenetic biomarkers, some of which are being introduced into clinical practice for diagnosis, molecular classification, prognosis or prediction of response to therapies. O-6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase gene is the most clinically advanced epigenetic biomarker as it predicts the response to temozolomide and carmustine in gliomas. Therefore, epigenomics may represent a novel and promising tool for precision medicine, and in particular, the detection of epigenomic biomarkers in liquid biopsies will be of great interest for monitoring diseases in patients. Of particular relevance is the identification of epigenetic biomarkers in lung cancer, one of the most prevalent and deadly types of cancer. DNA methylation of SHOX2 and RASSF1A could be used as diagnostic markers to differentiate between normal and tumor samples. MicroRNA and long noncoding RNA signatures associated with lung cancer development or tobacco smoke have also been identified. In addition to the field of biomarkers, therapeutic approaches using DNA methylation and histone deacetylation inhibitors are being tested in clinical trials for several cancer types. Moreover, new DNA editing techniques based on zinc finger and CRISPR/Cas9 technologies allow specific modification of aberrant methylation found in oncogenes or tumor suppressor genes. We envision that epigenomics will translate into the clinical field and will have an impact on lung cancer diagnosis/prognosis and treatment.

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