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Health Agencies Update
March 22/29, 2016

NIH Scientists Identify Chemical DNA Signature of 5 Cancers

Author Affiliations

Copyright 2016 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.

JAMA. 2016;315(12):1219. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.2451

Researchers at the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH’s) National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) have identified a distinctive chemical signature in the DNA of breast, endometrial, colon, lung, and stomach tumors (Margolin G et al. J Mol Diagn. 2016;18[2]:283-298). The researchers detected a higher level of a DNA chemical modification called methylation, which controls gene expression, on a gene found only in tumors.

“It’s a technical challenge to identify, but we found an elevated methylation signature around the gene known as ZNF154 that is unique to tumors,” said Laura Elnitski, PhD, the study’s senior researcher and a computational biologist at the NHGRI, in a news release (

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