MAY 02, 2020 11:38 AM PDT

Tracking DNA Methylation as a Prognostic Marker

WRITTEN BY: Jasper Cantrell

In the modern age of biological research, one of the tools that has become readily available is the ever-increasing data from patients. Many hospitals take part in the voluntary collection of data from patients, from basic patient details like weight and lifestyle to treatment effectiveness. This data allows people in the field of computational biology to analyze and produce statistical models that can aid healthcare workers in treatment and preventative care. In the future, these models could be implemented in such a way where a doctor could plug in a set of information from a patient and get a prognostic or diagnostic prediction to aid them.

A team from the United Kingdom hypothesized that DNA methylation (DNAm) could be used to create a prognostic model for oropharyngeal cancers (OPCs). DNAm is an epigenetic modification that regulates the expression of many genes by repressing expression. Previous research had identified that DNAm could be used to identify health and lifestyle characteristics such as exposure to tobacco smoke, or alcohol consumption. Therefore, following DNAm in the peripheral blood might be able to divulge information about a patient's survival chances early on, and possibly allow preventative action.

The group went to the Head and Neck 5000 study and pulled out data for 364 individuals with OPC. The aim was to examine four OPC connected characteristics; tobacco use, alcohol consumption, body mass index (BMI), and education level. To do this, they utilized several epigenome wide association studies and models to find the ones with the best fits for the target characteristics. Tobacco had the most significant connection with the mortality rate amongst all four tested characteristics, with alcohol consumption and BMI having little connection and education level having no significant correlation. Altogether the team took this as successful use of DNAm as a possible prognostic tool for OPC.

In a world where companies are buying and selling data all the time, many may be reprehensive in the idea of letting someone else use their information. In medicine, this data can be used in diagnostic and prognostic models, to reveal new drug targets, and even help identify new outbreaks of diseases in a population. The team concluded, "Our findings suggest peripheral blood DNAm predictors can be used to supplement a prediction model of mortality in those with oropharyngeal cancer." This work is but one example of researchers trying to take this bountiful data, and implement it to save lives.

Sources: Clinical Epigenetics, Garvin Institute of Medical Research

 

About the Author
  • Hey everyone! My name is Jasper and, considering I am pretty new here to Labroots, I figured I would introduce myself. I received my bachelor’s from the University of California at Riverside back in 2016. I started off my career a few years ago with a job at a University over in New York, before moving over into the industry. I'm happy to be writing content for Labroots, and I hope you enjoy it!
You May Also Like
JUL 14, 2020
Cancer
The bus that's bringing lung cancer screening to your doorstep
JUL 14, 2020
The bus that's bringing lung cancer screening to your doorstep
Scientists say that there is potential for a mobile platform for lung cancer screening with low-dose computed tomography ...
JUL 20, 2020
Cancer
Fighting Cancer with Black Pepper
JUL 20, 2020
Fighting Cancer with Black Pepper
In the never-ending search for the next treatment or cure, many researchers turn towards nature. The study of black pepp ...
JUL 22, 2020
Cancer
Investigating a New Target Against Esophageal Cancer
JUL 22, 2020
Investigating a New Target Against Esophageal Cancer
Esophageal cancer remains one of the most dangerous cancers in the world. Most therapies center around chemotherapy, rad ...
JUL 18, 2020
Cancer
Clinical trials go forth for osteosarcoma in dogs and glioblastoma multiforme in humans using the same precision medicine
JUL 18, 2020
Clinical trials go forth for osteosarcoma in dogs and glioblastoma multiforme in humans using the same precision medicine
A development in precision medicine in cancer treatment for dogs has led to a similar advancement in cancer treatment fo ...
AUG 11, 2020
Immunology
Study Reveals the Two Sides of an Immune Molecule
AUG 11, 2020
Study Reveals the Two Sides of an Immune Molecule
Scientists have discovered a key protein that regulates the immune system to fight off infections. Fascinatingly, the pr ...
AUG 11, 2020
Cancer
Aspirin could accelerate cancer progression in older adults
AUG 11, 2020
Aspirin could accelerate cancer progression in older adults
Alarming research published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute points toward the association between a ...
Loading Comments...