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Epigenetics Grant Awarded to Johns Hopkins and USC - 09/30/2009

Epigenetics Grant Awarded to Johns Hopkins and USC

Johns Hopkins And Usc Win 10.4 Million To Study Cancer Epigenome
Release Date: September 30, 2009

Stephen Baylin, M.D., - Epigenetics

Cancer research leader Stephen Baylin, M.D., discuss how "things go wrong in cancer" and the role of epigenetics in cancer.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has awarded $10.4 million to Johns Hopkins and The University of Southern California (USC) to decipher epigenetic marks in the cancer genome.  The joint five-year grant is expected to help scientists develop drugs and tests that target epigenetic changes in cancer cells.

Scientists at USC’s Epigenome Center and Johns Hopkins will focus on all major cancers, including breast, colon, and lung cancer.  The data will be collected as part of The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), a program funded by the NCI and National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) to develop a molecular map of alterations in cancer.

“We’ve learned that in addition to the DNA damage that happens at the genetic level, cancers can arise because of abnormal changes that occur in the way DNA is packaged,” says Stephen Baylin, M.D., deputy director of the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer and co-principal investigator with Peter W. Laird, Ph.D. of USC. 

Abnormal DNA packaging “silences” genes that confer cancer protection, and the Johns Hopkins-USC team will scan hundreds of tumor samples to identify the important locations where DNA packaging goes awry.

“The data may help us design better cancer drugs that reverse gene silencing and predict which patients would respond better to certain treatments than others,” says Baylin.

On the Web:
The Cancer Genome Atlas:
USC Epigenome Center: