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Epigenetic alterations as a universal feature of cancer hallmarks and a promising target for personalized treatments

[ Vol. 16 , Issue. 7 ]


Michael Schnekenburger, Cristina Florean, Mario Dicato and Marc Diederich   Pages 745 - 776 ( 32 )


Despite considerable scientific progress, the burden of cancer in our society remains a major public health problem. Tumorigenesis is recognized as a complex and multistep process that involves the accumulation of successive transformational events with multi-factorial etiology. Nevertheless, such events result in the acquisition of key hallmark characteristics that are shared by all cancer cells. Accumulating evidence indicates that, besides genetic alterations, epigenetic mechanisms (heritable changes in gene expression caused by modifications in chromatin structure without alterations of DNA sequence) are implicated in the acquisition of malignant phenotype. The potential reversibility of epigenetic alterations linked to tumorigenesis offers a promising avenue for therapeutic intervention. This review focuses on the epigenetic regulation of the cancer hallmarks and the foreseeable use of epigenetic drugs to target these features as a promising strategy for anti-cancer therapy. Based on this body of evidence, we believe that epigenetic deregulations can affect virtually all cell functions and therefore therapeutic approaches with epigenetic drugs could allow multi-target approach against the hallmarks of cancer.


Anti-cancer therapy, Cancer hallmarks, DNA methyltransferase, Epigenetic modulators, Epigenetics, Histone deacetylase.


Department of Pharmacy, College of Pharmacy, Seoul National University, Building 20, Room 303, 1 Gwanak-ro, Gwanak-gu, Seoul, 151-742, Korea

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