New cancer treatments that are much less toxic to the patient have resulted from the latest research into the complexity of the disease. In the last few years, scientists and doctors have found that tiny chemical tags in our bodies, which researchers call ‘ghosts’, accumulate over time and turn genes on or off.
The tags, known as the epigenome, can be altered by the environment. Associate Professor Susan Clark, head of the epigenetics group at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney, will give a free public lecture at The University of Western Australia on Wednesday, November 7 about her highly acclaimed pioneering work in cancer epigenetics.
Dr Clark’s lecture will be held at UWA’s Social Sciences Lecture Theatre at 6pm.
Dr Clark has been awarded numerous prizes for her research, including the prestigious German Science Prize in 2004 and the RPA Foundation Medal in 2002 for her outstanding contribution to DNA methylation analysis.
In her lecture, she will discuss her method of detecting the epigenetic chemical tag in the genome and how this tag plays a critical role in cancer, its detection and its treatment.
Modifications to our epigenome can change critical cellular instructions – one way a cancer cell is formed. This makes the picture of cancer more complicated than the original idea that the disease was caused by irreversible damage to critical DNA sequences within the genome.
However, unlike genetic damage, changes to the epigenome can sometimes be reversed with treatments which are less invasive than old methods. The emergence of this more complex idea of cancer is good news for patients and doctors.
For more information, contact the Institute of Advanced Studies on 6488 1340 or email [email protected]
Audrey Barton (Institute of Advanced Studies) 61 8 6488 1340