The role of epigenetics in personalized medicine: challenges and opportunities

BMC Med Genomics. 2015;8 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):S5. doi: 10.1186/1755-8794-8-S1-S5. Epub 2015 Jan 15.


Epigenetic alterations are considered to be very influential in both the normal and disease states of an organism. These alterations include methylation, acetylation, phosphorylation, and ubiquitylation of DNA and histone proteins (nucleosomes) as well as chromatin remodeling. Many diseases, such as cancers and neurodegenerative disorders, are often associated with epigenetic alterations. DNA methylation is one important modification that leads to disease. Standard therapies are given to patients; however, few patients respond to these drugs, because of various molecular alterations in their cells, which may be partially due to genetic heterogeneity and epigenetic alterations. To realize the promise of personalized medicine, both genetic and epigenetic diagnostic testing will be required. This review will discuss the advances that have been made as well as the challenges for the future.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Epigenesis, Genetic*
  • Genetic Testing
  • Genomics
  • Humans
  • Pharmacogenetics
  • Precision Medicine / methods*