Many studies suggest that epigenetic changes, alterations in gene expression that do not involve changes in the DNA sequence, may play an important role in some diseases, particularly cancer. But translating these findings into effective treatments has proved a challenge.
Recent data from research using mouse models of systemic lupus erythematosus are providing some evidence that understanding the role of epigenetics in a disease can lead to potential treatments. In an article published November 5 in an advance online edition of the Journal of Proteome Research, scientists identified epigenetic alterations linked with a lupus-like disease in mice and showed that therapy can reverse these changes and decrease symptoms of the disease (http://pubs.acs.org/journals/jprobs/index.html). On November 16, the same scientists presented data showing that a drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration used to treat seizures reverses these epigenetic changes and effectively reduces lupus symptoms in mice.
Kuehn BM. Novel Lupus Therapies Show Promise. JAMA. 2005;294(23):2960. doi:10.1001/jama.294.23.2960