Epigenetic Targets in Cancer

Kristian Helin1

1University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark


Cell fate decisions are regulated by an intricate interplay between the cellular environment, growth factors and intracellular signaling pathways. The balance of stability versus plasticity in stem cells is a regulatory challenge, and extensive studies in recent years have focused on understanding the contribution of transcription factors and epigenetic enzymes in the regulation of cellular identity and differentiation pathways. Disruption of epigenetic control is a frequent event in disease, and the first epigenetic-based therapies for cancer treatment have been approved.  A generation of new classes of potent and specific inhibitors for several chromatin-associated proteins has shown promise in pre-clinical trials.  Although the biology of epigenetic regulation is complex, these and other new inhibitors will hopefully be of clinical use in the coming years. Our research is focused on understanding the role of epigenetic regulators in maintaining cellular identity and how their deregulation leads to cancer.  At the conference, I will review the progress that has been made on the development of new epigenetic inhibitors and discuss some of our recent results on the understanding of the biological function of chromatin-associated proteins and how they contribute to cancer