Cancer epigenetics reaches mainstream oncology

Nat Med. 2011 Mar;17(3):330-9. doi: 10.1038/nm.2305.


Epigenetics is one of the most promising and expanding fields in the current biomedical research landscape. Since the inception of epigenetics in the 1940s, the discoveries regarding its implications in normal and disease biology have not stopped, compiling a vast amount of knowledge in the past decade. The field has moved from just one recognized marker, DNA methylation, to a variety of others, including a wide spectrum of histone modifications. From the methodological standpoint, the successful initial single gene candidate approaches have been complemented by the current comprehensive epigenomic approaches that allow the interrogation of genomes to search for translational applications in an unbiased manner. Most important, the discovery of mutations in the epigenetic machinery and the approval of the first epigenetic drugs for the treatment of subtypes of leukemias and lymphomas has been an eye-opener for many biomedical scientists and clinicians. Herein, we will summarize the progress in the field of cancer epigenetics research that has reached mainstream oncology in the development of new biomarkers of the disease and new pharmacological strategies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • DNA Methylation
  • Epigenesis, Genetic*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Neoplasms / therapy


  • Biomarkers, Tumor