A study published by scientists at the IJC has applied DNA methylation profiling to samples from patients with chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (CMML)
A study carried out by Laura Palomo, as part of her doctorate in the Genetics and Epigenetics of Myeloid Neoplasms Group, led by Dr Lurdes Zamora, shows that methylation profiling can be used to separate out distinct groups of patients and to predict how the disease will progress for some of these groups
A study carried out by Laura Palomo, as part of her doctorate in the Genetics and Epigenetics of Myeloid Neoplasms Group, led by Dr Lurdes Zamora in collaboration with Dr. Marcus Buschbeck's research group, shows that methylation profiling can be used to separate out distinct groups of patients and to predict how the disease will progress for some of these groups.
In the paper published in Epigenetics recently the group show how epigenetic changes can provide information about underlying genetic changes, but also how this information can be used to separate patients into groups with different prognoses.
Chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (CMML) is a rare blood cancer, which usually occurs in elderly people. The symptoms overlap with the ones observed in myelodysplastic syndromes and myeloproliferative neoplasms. There are two types of CMML, defined by different bone marrow cell counts, and treatment and progression of the disease is different for the two groups. In some cases CMML can develop into acute myeloid leukemia (AML).
Epigenetics is the study of the attachment of chemical groups to the DNA which makes up the genetic code (genes), these attachments effect how genes function. In cancer this information can provide information about how far the disease has progressed, but it can also provide clues about how it develops.
Unusual epigenetic events are known to play a part in many solid tumours and leukemias. In this study, led by Lurdes Zamora from the Genetics and Epigenetics in Myeloid Neoplasms Group, the researchers looked at the epigenetic changes in 64 CMML patients and 10 healthy donors to see if this information could be used to take clinical decisions in the future. At the same time they compared this with genetic and clinical information for the same patients.
They found that there are many epigenetic changes in CMML patients, some are common to all patients with myeloid malignancies and many are associated with genes known to be mutated specifically in this disease. They were also able to identify specific groups of patients with similar biological and clinical features from their particular epigenetic patterns
According to Laura Palomo, it is clear that epigenetic changes are involved in the progression of CMML as they are in other cancers. “They are another way for cells to accumulate information as the disease progresses and studying them is another way to find out what is happening in these illnesses.” She said. “We can also use the epigenetic profile to separate out different groups of patients, who apparently have exactly the same disease, but in fact will respond differently to different treatments and may have different life expectancies. What is also very important is that the more we know about these (temporary) epigenetic changes, which are affecting how the genetic code is interpreted, the more chance we will have of controlling them, or in other words developing new effective therapies,” she explained.
Epigenetics. 2017 Nov 21:1-37. doi: 10.1080/15592294.2017.1405199
DNA methylation profile in chronic myelomonocytic leukemia associates with distinct clinical, biological and genetic features.
Palomo L, Malinverni R, Cabezón M, Xicoy 4, Arnan M, Coll R, Pomares H, García O, Fuster-Tormo F, Grau J4, Feliu E, Solé F, Buschbeck M, Zamora L