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Disease Markers
Volume 23 (2007), Issue 1-2, Pages 43-49

Epigenetic Markers and Response to Chemotherapy in Cancer

Gordon Strathdee

Centre for Oncology and Applied Pharmacology, Cancer Research UK Beatson Laboratories, Glasgow University, Glasgow G61 1BD, UK

Received 18 January 2007; Accepted 18 January 2007

Copyright © 2007 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The last ten years has seen an explosion in interest in epigenetic mechanisms of control of gene expression. This is particularly true in the field of cancer research where epigenetic alterations are now regarded as equally important as genetic alterations in the development and progression of cancer. Of particular interest is altered DNA methylation, which is a key feature of essentially all tumour types. Aberrant methylation of CpG islands represents an ideal candidate for both diagnostic and prognostic markers in cancer. It is highly prevalent, very largely tumour specific and potentially far more readily detectible than most genetic alterations. This review will discuss the genes already identified as potential epigenetic markers of drug response, as well as the rapidly improving technology for detection of methylation which has greatly expanded the potential sources of tumour specific DNA that can be used for epigenetic marker analysis.