Epigenetics: new tool for precision medicine

July 06, 2016

A Series of papers published by BLUEPRINT scientists

On June 27, four new papers, co-authored by several BLUEPRINT members and others, were published in Nature Biotechnology and Nature Communications.  These papers describethe feasibility of epigenetic analysis for clinical diagnostics and precision medicine.

In this series of papers led by Christoph Bock (CeMM - Research Center for Molecular Medicine of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna) and Stephan Beck (University College London, UCL), an international group of scientists have validated the feasibility of epigenetic analysis for clinical applications.

“Epigenetic tests have a key role to play for making precision medicine a clinical reality. Epigenetics captures part of each cell’s individual history, and it can predict how cancer cells will react to drug treatment. This can be very useful for personalized therapy” states Christoph Bock, Principal Investigator at CeMM.

The recently published studies, which have been performed within the frameworks of IHEC and BLUEPRINT, constitute a milestone for utilizing epigenetic information in clinical diagnostics and precision medicine.

Professor Stephan Beck, Head of the Medical Genomics Research Group at UCL Cancer Institute, says: “This exciting new technology will advance our ability to understand phenotypic plasticity in health and disease, an important aspect of cancer research”.

The four papers in detail

  • Quantitative comparison of DNA methylation assays for biomarker development and clinical applications. C. Bock et al. Nature Biotechnology
  • Saturation analysis for whole-genome bisulfite sequencing data. Libertini et al. Nature Biotechnology
  • Information recovery from low coverage whole-genome bisulfite sequencing. Libertini et al. Nature Communication
  • Chromatin Accessibility maps of chronic lymphocytic leukemia identify subtype-specific epigenome signatures and transcription regulatory networks. Rendeiro, Schmidl, Strefford et al. Nature Communication