EpigenomicsNet: month in brief

In this monthly round up, we present the hottest content that can be found on the home for all things epigenetics, EpigenomicsNet.

Go to the profile of Peter Brown
Apr 04, 2017
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This month we featured a number of fascinating news stories in relation to cancer epigenetics, firstly, a recent study by a multi-institutional team of American and Chinese scientists is investigating the development of a novel therapy that could potentially disrupt oncogenic gene expression. Meanwhile, researchers at the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (Barcelona, Spain) have gone beyond the epigenome and identified how the epitranscriptome may contribute towards human diseases such as cancer. Additionally a research team at Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD, USA) has significantly added to evidence of inbuilt epigenetic randomness, which could contribute to cancerous cell’s ability to proliferate and metastasize and finally, a neoteric study investigating a disrupted epigenome in cancer has identified that epigenetic writers and erasers may be part of an interconnected network complementing each other.

In other epigenetics news, a team at the University of Washington (Seattle, WA, USA) identified that Neanderthal DNA sequences still influence gene expression in modern humans.

Scientists at Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD, USA) have developed new computational software that enables them to detect DNA cytosine methylation, which could allow researchers to precisely locate the role of methylations in various health problems.

An epigenetic enzyme interfering with the action of the innate immune system and intestinal health could provide possible treatment routes for inflammatory bowel diseases according to researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (Boston, MA, USA).

Genome-wide changes caused by a high-fat diet in mice could enable researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine (Philadelphia, PA, USA) to understand how environmental influences affect the epigenome and develop precise treatment to epigenetically rescue gene expression in disease states.

A collaborative project between American institutes has potentially discovered a method to prevent chronic pain by utilizing CRISPR to alter the epigenome.

Researchers at Kumamoto University (Kumamoto, Japan) have demonstrated how SETD8 could be employed to prevent cellular senescence.

A team at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (New York, NY, USA) has distinguished that heroin use is associated with epigenetic alterations in the human brain and has potentially revealed a novel epigenetic drug target for clinical interventions.

B-vitamins may play an important role in reducing the impact of air pollution on the epigenome according to a study conducted at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health (New York, NY, USA).


I was lucky enough to catch up with EpigenomicsNet leader Dr Michael Skinner, to discuss aspects of his recent paper detailing the alterations of the spermatogenic stem cell epigenome by chemotherapy in adolescent males. We touch upon the potential transgenerational implications of these epigenetic changes and additionally discuss his opinion on the unified theory of evolution – the controversial combination of Neo-Darwinian and Neo-Lamarckian mechanisms to further our understanding of how the environment impacts evolution.


At the recent Advances in Drug Discovery conference (held in Cambridge, UK, 67 March 2017) I was fortunate enough to converse with a number of speakers at the event, which strongly emphasized the importance of epigenetics in drug discovery. In these EPNtalks podcasts, I discussed drug discovery efforts, research foci and highlights of the event with notable figures in the field of epigenetic drug discovery.


On the 13th April 2017 07:00 [PDT] 10:00 [EDT] 15:00 [BST] our sister website, Neuro Central, will present a webinar with Dr James Coffman of MDI Biological (Bar Harbor, ME, USA) on the contribution of chronic stress to adult disease risk. Previous epidemiological studies have demonstrated that chronic stress experienced in early life can induce epigenetic mechanisms, increasing the risk of developing inflammatory disease in adulthood, mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression. A must watch for any epigeneticist, health professional or neuroscientist!


First up for this month, we have a fantastic piece by Dr Gwen Lomberk, detailing her lab’s novel research into utilizing epigenetic inhibitors as a therapeutic approach for the treatment of pancreatic cancer. Preliminary results suggest an important and provocative consideration for harnessing the capacity of cell cycle inhibitors to enhance epigenetic inhibitors. Additionally, there is hope that similar approaches can be translated to other genetic-to-epigenetic pathways to potentially control cancer growth.

Secondly, we have this insightful piece by Dr Jessica Stringer, where she provides some key considerations of transgenerational epigenetic inheritance. It is well established that epigenetic information is passed by gametes to the developing offspring, however accumulating evidence indicates that parental metabolic state or environmental chemical exposure, can impact health over multiple generations.

Last, but not least, we have another piece by the European Bioinformatics Institute, following their intriguing introduction to their Ensembl bioinformatics system last month. In this article, the EMBL-EBI team provide a brief introduction to the International Human Epigenome Consortium and emphasize its potential importance within bioinformatics.

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Go to the profile of Peter Brown

Peter Brown

Editor and Community Manager, Future Science Group

As Editor and Community Manager for EpigenomicsNet and MedChemNet, I'm priviledged to collaborate with key opinion leaders and revolutionary thinkers. Please let me know if there's anything I can do to help you promote your news and views!

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