SOURCE: Kalorama Information

Kalorama Information

August 24, 2012 11:35 ET

Highly-Targeted Epigenomic Treatments May Change Cancer Therapy

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - Aug 24, 2012) -  A new shift in thinking about genetics could transform cancer treatment over the next five years, according to Kalorama Information. The healthcare market research publisher says therapies such as monoclonal antibodies may have competition from an unexpected source: changes in the genetic material that occur for reasons other than DNA base pair alteration. The finding was made in its recent report, "Epigenomics, Present and Future Applications for Pharmaceuticals and Diagnostics." 

Epigenomics constitutes a challenge to the long-held paradigm of DNA base pair sequences as the prime determinant of the phenotype. Examples of such changes include DNA methylation and histone acetylation, both of which have been known for many years to cause changes in gene expression. The report says that drugs that target the epigenome offer a number of important advantages over other forms of cancer treatment; most notably they can be taken orally, saving the patient discomfort, cost and inconvenience. They are also more focused specifically against their target.

"Rather than blasting away machine gun style at the malignancy, they aim at a very specific reaction site within the cell," said K. John Morrow, Jr., PhD, Kalorama analyst and author of the report. "So far their side effects have proven to be relatively minor."

The report says that while epigenomic therapeutics have been around for a while, a raft of new clinical trials are in progress, and with any luck the next few years will see a number of FDA approvals for these agents. There are already FDA-approved epigenetic anti-cancer drugs available, such as azacytidine, and trials are underway that combine a non-epigenetically-based drug with one of the compounds under evaluation.

Perhaps the only concern to companies wishing to pursue the Kalorama recommendation is the competition, the fact that so many of the major pharmaceutical and biotech players are already building vigorous epigenomics programs. These programs include investigations into epigenomic mechanisms that engage cardiovascular disease and neurological dysfunction. Some may see these as non-cancer-related but they are. It is known that flexible epigenomic parameters exist that can change gene expression under external influences, while endowed with the ability to stably propagate these modifications from one generation to the next.

"At present the major pharmaceutical companies are faced with a downward spiral of profitability," Morrow said. "Epigenomic technologies represent an escape from this corrosive cycle of greater and greater R&D expenditures and poorer and poorer yields of FDA-approved pharmaceuticals."

Kalorama Information's report, "Epigenomics, Present and Future Applications for Pharmaceuticals and Diagnostics," has an extensive survey of information on market forecasts and company activities in the marketplace.

About Kalorama Information
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