Origins of Glioma Brain Cancer Can Be Found in Epigenome

While cancers often originate from mutations and other alterations of cells' DNA, researchers in the Bernstein Laboratory at Dana-Farber and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard have found that gliomas--incurable brain tumors--can arise due to changes in the epigenome, the collection of compounds that are deposited on DNA and alter gene activity without changing the sequence of DNA itself.  The researchers pinpointed two genes whose activity is epigenetically altered in human gliomas, including one cancer-causing oncogene and one cancer-preventingtumor suppressor gene. In animal models, the scientists showed that changes to the epigenome that activate the oncogene and silence the tumor suppressor gene work in sync to spur brain tumor formation.  The findings underscore the potential of therapies that seek to impede gliomas by targeting the epigenome. The results were published on July 25, 2023 in Cell. The article is titled “Modeling Epigenetic Lesions That Cause Gliomas.”

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