About this Research Topic
Epigenetic modifications are the key processes of cellular development and carcinogenesis. These modifications are considered a hallmark of cancer and have attracted considerable attention over the past decade for developing biomarker detection methods and therapeutic discovery for various malignancies. The advantage of using epigenetic modifications as biomarkers is their stability and availability in many sample types. With the next generation technology, the detection of epigenetic modifications can also be useful in non-invasive biospecimens such as blood plasma and serum. These modifications are also useful for treatment discovery, as different malignancies present different epigenetic signatures and, therefore, reversal of this phenotype offers a targetable therapy. For example, global DNA hypermethylation can be treated with demethylation agent such as decitabine. Amongst all epigenetic alterations, DNA methylation is the most widely studied in cancer. The status of DNA methylation modifications during different stages of carcinogenesis and is identifiable using current technology. As such, the status of DNA methylation has a biomarker potential in cancer diagnostics. Epigenetic modifications can be measured in cell-free DNA (cfDNA) which is abundant in blood samples such as plasma and serum.
Mesothelioma is a rare malignancy caused by asbestos exposure with a poor prognosis and limited treatment options. The disease is associated with a long latency period between asbestos exposure and the development of the disease. Currently, there is no blood-based detection method for mesothelioma and diagnosis relies on tumor biopsy. Research has demonstrated that epigenetic dysregulation is a common event in mesothelioma and may represent critical events in the malignant transformation of the disease following asbestos exposure. Although DNA methylation is a common feature in mesothelioma and therefore represents an alternative diagnostic option, previous DNA methylation discovery approaches have been unsuccessful. In addition, investigations have demonstrated the methylation of genes with tumor suppressor function in mesothelioma, indicating the potential of reversing aberrant DNA methylation as a potential treatment approach in mesothelioma. Considering this, investigations focusing on the application of epigenetic modifications as biomarkers or as targets for therapeutics in mesothelioma have the potential to produce high impact in the field.
The present article collection aims to publish high-quality research articles as well as reviews on a variety of topics related to epigenetic biomarkers. Potential topics include, but are not limited to:
- Types of epigenetic biomarkers in mesothelioma, such as DNA methylation, circulating or non-circulating, and microRNA and other non-coding RNA
- The use of less/non-invasive detection of epigenetic biomarkers
- Discovery and therapeutic applications of epigenetic biomarkers
- The role of epigenetic alterations in mesothelioma carcinogenesis
Keywords: Epigenetic, DNA methylation, biomarkers, treatment, mesothelioma
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