How can identical twins, with the same genetic makeup, experience different diseases? Scientists believe this is due to epigenetic marks or chemical tags that play a role in controlling the activities of genes. The study of the epigenetic landscape has already generated recent breakthroughs in the detection, treatment and prognosis of many diseases, including cancer.
These breakthroughs are due in part to large-scale mapping efforts of cancer genomes coupled with the rapidly dropping costs of high-throughput next-generation sequencing technologies. Identification of mutations and epigenetic analysis are the next frontier for finding reliable biomarkers and developing targeted therapies.
Next-generation sequencing platforms are particularly powerful for mutational and epigenetic studies due to their ability to quickly analyze the entire genome through multiple methods of sequencing, such as DNA, RNA, miRNA, whole genome, exome, targeted, ChIP-Seq, methylome and epigenome. As a result, researchers obtain comprehensive, clinically relevant data sets.
With these resulting data, computational biologists can mine both open source data sets along with data sets from clinical trials to narrow down options for prospective biomarkers. Continue reading