Ariz. ó An international research team led by Mayo Clinic
oncologists has found a new way to identify and possibly stop
the progression of many late-stage cancers, including bladder,
blood, bone, brain, lung and kidney.
precision medicine study appears online in Oncogene and
focuses on kidney cancer and its metastases. Recent studies of
the same epigenomic fingerprint in other cancers suggest a
common pathway that could help improve the diagnosis and
treatment of advanced disease across a wide variety of cancer
you think of late-stage cancer as a runaway car, most of our
drugs take a shot at a tire here and there, but sometimes they
miss and often they canít stop it entirely," says Thai
Ho, M.D., Ph.D., a Mayo Clinic oncologist and lead author of
the study. "We believe we have identified a mechanism
that seizes the cancerís biological engine and could
potentially stop it in its tracks."
approach zeroes in on an epigenomic fingerprint in metastatic
disease, in which the body often misinterprets a healthy
genetic blueprint, producing toxic cells that run afoul of the
bodyís normal functions.
and his colleagues are currently validating a test based on
the newly identified epigenomic fingerprint, called H3K36me3
loss, which could help providers identify more aggressive
cancers or find the best drug for the individual patient to
further personalize medical care.
paper is the first report we know of translating this
fingerprint into patient tissues, and efforts are ongoing to
expand this to tumors beyond kidney cancer," says Dr. Ho.
and a potential treatment are based on an emerging discipline
of medical research called epigenomics, the complex biological
process through which individual cells read their genetic
blueprints and then determine what type of tissue to become.
offers the example of honeybees as among the starkest examples
of how epigenomics affects cellular function and an organismís
their life spans, all bees in a hive share the same DNA
sequence. But some bees become drones, others sterile female
workers, and still others the queen. Much of this
differentiation can be attributed to epigenomics, says Dr. Ho.
feeding a larval honeybee with copious amounts of a richly
nutritious secretion called royal jelly, the larva will
eventually develop into a queen. Chemicals present in the
royal jelly, but absent in nectar and pollen, are thought to
activate entirely different parts of the same bee genome ó
converting one larva into the queen while others, such as
workers and drones, are much smaller and have shorter life
spans. Similarly, cancers often subvert a cellís normal
epigenomic mechanisms to become more aggressive.
study represents a collaborative effort from the Mayo Clinic
Center for Individualized Medicine, spanning at all three Mayo
sites: Mayo Clinic in Arizona, Mayo Clinic in Florida, and
Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. Scientists and physicians at MD
Anderson Cancer Center, Texas A&M University, Baylor
College of Medicine, Van Andel Research Institute and National
Cancer Centre Singapore contributed to this two-year study.
comes from the National Institutes of Health, Mayo Clinic
Center for Individualized Medicine and generous benefactors of