Mechanisms of Carcinogenesis - Epigenetics Group
Epigenetics represents a new frontier in cancer research, owing to the fact that epigenetic changes have emerged as key mechanisms in cancer development. All critical changes in cancer cells, such as silencing of tumour suppressor genes, activation of oncogenes and defects in DNA repair, can be caused not only by genetic but also by epigenetic mechanisms. Therefore, understanding epigenetic changes associated with cancer onset, progression and metastasis is fundamental to improving our abilities to successfully prevent, diagnose and treat cancer. Although the implication of epigenetic events in cancer is supported by both epidemiological and experimental studies, the precise contribution of epigenetic mechanisms and cellular targets of epigenetic alterations in specific human cancers is largely unknown. The intrinsic reversibility and ubiquity of epigenetic changes in virtually all types of human cancer make them attractive subjects for biomarker discovery and strategies for cancer prevention. The Epigenetics Group (EGE) conducts both mechanistic studies and epigenetic profiling, aiming (1) to gain a better mechanistic understanding of tumorigenesis, and (2) to discover and validate new epigenetic biomarkers. This programme exploits new concepts in cancer epigenetics and recent technological advances in epigenetics and epigenomics, and is carried out in close collaboration with IARC laboratory scientists and epidemiologists as well as external groups.