Einstein researcher receives NIH grant to explore epigenetic regulation of the human genome

October 16, 2007

(BRONX, NY) A researcher at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine has been awarded a $1.5 million, three-year technology development grant from the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) of the National Institutes of Health. Dr. John Greally, associate professor of medicine and of molecular genetics at Einstein, received one of six technology development grants awarded by the NHGRI as part of its ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements (ENCODE) project.

Dr. Greally studies epigenetics, an emerging field that involves changes in gene expression that do not result from changes in DNA sequence. These epigenetic changes can be passed on from one cell generation to the next. The epigenetic regulation of genes--turning them on and off--is crucially important: Glitches in epigenetic control mechanisms, for example, have been found in every type of cancer that researchers have examined to date.

During his three-year project, Dr. Greally plans to develop new means of identifying patterns of epigenetic regulators in the human genome, gaining insights into how these epigenetic mechanisms control genes. Dr. Greally will team with Brad Bernstein, M.D., of Massachusetts General Hospital and Andi Gnirke, Ph.D., of Boston's Broad Institute to develop these new assays that are based on the use of high-throughput sequencing.

"The high-throughput sequencer will allow us to generate billions of base pairs of DNA sequence information in each experiment, allowing us to study the epigenome at a level of resolution that has never previously been possible," said Dr. Greally, who is principal investigator for the team. "We'll be able to view things in greater detail and with greater accuracy than ever before."

The researchers will be developing high-throughput methods to analyze and map the two principal epigenetic control mechanisms: methylation of cytosine (one of four nucleic acids found in DNA) and modifications of histones (proteins that help to package DNA into chromosomes). The methylation (addition of a methyl group, CH3) of cytosine switches genes off, which can be associated with certain diseases such as cancer. The second key epigenetic mechanism--modifying histone proteins--also helps to control whether or not a gene is expressed.

"The technology we're using will allow us to identify the genetic mutations responsible for the epigenetic dysregulation that results in human disease," added Dr. Greally. "In doing so, we can then develop potential targets for treatment."

All the data generated by the ENCODE project will be deposited into public databases as soon as they are experimentally verified. As a result, researchers around the world will have free and rapid access to the data and will be able to pose new questions and gain new insights into how the human genome functions.
-end-
In addition to the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, other institutions receiving technology development grants include Stanford University, University of Washington, Indiana University, University of Chicago, and the Genome Institute of Singapore. Overall, the NHGRI announced grants totaling more than $80 million over the next four years to support research expanding the ENCODE project, as well as two pilot scale projects and the establishment of an ENCODE data coordination center.

Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Related Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

New blood cancer treatment works by selectively interfering with cancer cell signalling
University of Alberta scientists have identified the mechanism of action behind a new type of precision cancer drug for blood cancers that is set for human trials, according to research published in Nature Communications.

UCI researchers uncover cancer cell vulnerabilities; may lead to better cancer therapies
A new University of California, Irvine-led study reveals a protein responsible for genetic changes resulting in a variety of cancers, may also be the key to more effective, targeted cancer therapy.

Breast cancer treatment costs highest among young women with metastic cancer
In a fight for their lives, young women, age 18-44, spend double the amount of older women to survive metastatic breast cancer, according to a large statewide study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Cancer mortality continues steady decline, driven by progress against lung cancer
The cancer death rate declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.

Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.

Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.

More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.

New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.

American Cancer Society outlines blueprint for cancer control in the 21st century
The American Cancer Society is outlining its vision for cancer control in the decades ahead in a series of articles that forms the basis of a national cancer control plan.

Read More: Cancer News and Cancer Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.