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Medical News & Perspectives
November 12, 2008

Studies of DNA Methylation in Cancer Beginning to Yield Clinical Applications

JAMA. 2008;300(18):2105-2106. doi:10.1001/jama.2008.571

Although scientists have long understood that cancer is ultimately a disorder related to malfunctioning genes, an appreciation that not all such malfunctions involve mutations of DNA is more recent. Studies have demonstrated that cancer also can be caused when methylation, the process by which methyl (CH3) groups are attached to DNA bases, goes awry.

Research endeavors focused on this topic were presented recently in Philadelphia at a conference on Molecular Diagnostics in Cancer Therapeutic Development, convened by the American Association for Cancer Research. Such work could expand oncologists' diagnostic and treatment tools for detecting and managing a variety of types of cancer.