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'Fingerprint' may help beat cancers

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.  An international research team led by Mayo Clinic oncologists has found a new way to identify and possibly stop the progression of many late-stage cancers, including bladder, blood, bone, brain, lung and kidney.

The precision medicine study appears online in Oncogene and focuses on kidney cancer and its metastases. Recent studies of the same epigenomic fingerprint in other cancers suggest a common pathway that could help improve the diagnosis and treatment of advanced disease across a wide variety of cancer types.

"If you think of late-stage cancer as a runaway car, most of our drugs take a shot at a tire here and there, but sometimes they miss and often they can't stop it entirely," said Dr. Thai Ho, a Mayo Clinic oncologist and lead author of the study. "We believe we have identified a mechanism that seizes the cancer's biological engine and could potentially stop it in its tracks."

The new approach zeroes in on an epigenomic fingerprint in metastatic disease, in which the body often misinterprets a healthy genetic blueprint, producing toxic cells that run afoul of the body's normal functions.

Ho and his colleagues are currently validating a test based on the newly identified epigenomic fingerprint, called H3K36me3 loss, which could help providers identify more aggressive cancers or find the best drug for the individual patient to further personalize medical care.

The Lawton Constitution

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