Freshen your breath while screening for cancer!

Freshen your breath while screening for cancer: harnessing DNA methylation in mouthwash samples for early detection of oral and pharyngeal cancer

Oral & pharyngeal cancer accounted for an estimated 45,780 new cancer diagnoses and 8,650 deaths in the United States in 20151. The 5-year survival rate is around 60% but, as is the case with most cancers, survival decreases with increasing stage at diagnosis. This is particularly problematic, since about two-thirds …


Epigenome Editing with CRISPR-dCas9, TALEs, and Zinc Fingers

With a reference epigenome on the horizon it has become apparent that an enormous amount of variation, both inherited and environmental, is responsible for the development of complex traits and diseases. While a catalogue of such alterations is invaluable to humanity, perhaps more valuable would be the ability to alter …

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Using DNA Methylation to Diagnosis Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is mainly seen in genetically predisposed individuals exposed to non-genetic risk factors like obesity, age and physical inactivity. Lately, it has become evident that this interaction between genetic and environmental factors most likely involves epigenetic modifications. Rönn & Ling recently summarized human data supporting a role for …


Using Saliva to Measure the Brain: Translating A Salivary Diagnostic for Fetal Alcohol Exposure

The consumption of any amount of alcohol during pregnancy can cause fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). FASD is an umbrella term covering a wide range of exposures from prenatal alcohol exposure, with the most severe outcome termed Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). However, the spectrum is wide and with no lower …

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LINE-1 Methylation in Tumors

The human genome consists, in its majority, of non-protein-coding DNA. Short (SINEs) and long (LINEs) repeats contribute to more than 35% of the total genomic DNA mass. In particular, LINE-1 repeats make up roughly 17% of the human genome. For these reasons, LINE-1 promoter methylation is widely used as surrogate …


Chewing Over Salivary Diagnostics and the Epigenome

Michael Wren, Elizabeth Shirtcliff, Stacy Drury Over the last decade there has been substantial advances in salivary biomarker development and diagnostics. Unlike blood draws, saliva collection is noninvasive, inexpensive, and convenient for repeated sampling, making it especially useful for research in vulnerable populations, such as young children, the sick, and …


The epigenome mapped in more than 100 tissues and cell types

A consortium of researchers published a description of 111 epigenetic maps produced as part of the Roadmap Epigenomics Program. A useful tool for understanding epigenetic changes associated with several conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease, cancers or autoimmune disorders. In the body, most of the cells have identical genomes. But the …


Histone Cleavage Can Interfere with the Measurement of Downstream Modifications

Histone modifications are increasingly being used as biomarkers in molecular epidemiology studies. However, a recent report from researchers at Columbia University describes a distinct histone H3 cleavage product, identified by Western blot, in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), which interferes with the measurement of certain histone modifications (Howe and …