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Members’ news 2017-10-06T10:35:03+00:00

Society Members News

This is our wall of fame, listing some of the recent achievements of the members of the Cancer Epigenetics Society in cancer and/or epigenetics research. These include groundbreaking research articles, grants, lectures, awards, and other accolades that our members have produced or received, and that have impacted cancer discovery and treatment. If you would like us to include your latest achievements, please send us and email us here.

October, 2017 – Tatiana Kutateladze, University of Colorado, showed for the first time that the protein partner of Sans-fille (PPS), a regulator of stemness genes, and which together with sex-lethal regulates alternative splicing in Drosophila, as well as its human homolog DIDO, are pH-dependent histone H3 trimethylated lysine 4 (H3K4me3) readers. The interaction of PPS PHD finger with H3K4me3 is favorable at higher pH owing to the protonation of a histidine in the aromatic cage of the PHD finger in acidic environments. These findings indicate that intracellular pH fluctuations that accompany several physiological and pathological processes, including cancer, can modulate epigenetic processes and ultimately the biology of the cell; more here.

August, 2017 – I.M. Bennani-Baiti, President of the Cancer Epigenetics Society, was inducted into the Royal Society (of London), Section of Medicine, as a Fellow. Dr. Bennani-Baiti is the fourth Cancer Epigenetics Society member to join the ranks of the prestigious Royal Society Fellows after Sir Shankar Balasubramanian (University of Cambridge), Christopher J. Schofield (University of Oxford), and Arasu Ganesan (University of East Anglia). Some of the greatest scientific minds are or were Fellows of the Society, including Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Louis Pasteur, Stephen Hawking, Albert Einstein, and 280 Nobel Prize laureates.

July, 2017 – Raul Urrutia, Cancer Epigenetics Society Chief Science Officer, is the new Director of the Human and Molecular Genetics Center (HMGC) at the Medical College of Wisconsin. HMGC, previously led by Howard Jacob, is one of the centers associated with the human genome project and is a leader in using genomic information in improving patient’s treatment outcome. HMGC was the first center to perform clinical exon sequencing, thus launching Precision Medicine in the USA. Under Dr. Urrutia’s leadership, the Center will expand its research on how genetic and epigenetic variants impact gene expression and associate with cancer as well as with certain rare diseases.

July, 2017 – Ashwin Unnikrishnan and coll., Lowy Cancer Research Centre at University of New South Wales (Sidney, Australia) identified a mechanism of resistance of Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS) to the DNA demethylating agent 5-Aza, the only drug approved for MDS treatment. They found that quiescent MDS cells were more resistant to 5-Aza than actively dividing cells, and 5-Aza-resistant patients had more quiescent cells than responders. They further identified Integrin α5 (ITGA5) as a mediator of quiescence, indicating that combination therapies of ITGA5-inhibitors and 5-Aza may circumvent resistance in MDS. This work was reported in the July 18th issue of Cell Reports and may be accessed here.

June, 2017 – Raul Urrutia (Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA) delivered a lecture entitled Epigenomic Landscapes of Pancreatic Cancer: A Precision Medicine Approach.  Therein he presented how the use of multi parametric ChIP-Seq/RRBS/RNA-Seq analyses gives insights into cancer heterogeneity and reveals novel markers and targets of translational value (10th ISABS Conference on Forensic and Anthropologic Genetics and Mayo Clinic Lectures in Individualized Medicine, Dubrovnik, Croatia, 19-24 June 2017).

June, 2017 – Nita Ahuja and coll. demonstrated that 5-aza treatment of colon and ovarian cancer cell lines leads to significant re-expression of genes involved in antigen processing and presentation, by activating the type I interferon response, and this lasts up to 21 days after treatment. Further investigations showed that 5-aza upregulates the MHC I antigen presenting complex on the surface of colon and ovarian cancer cells. This study was recently published and is available here.

May, 2017 – Nora Bennani and coll. at the Mayo Clinic (Rochester, MN, USA) demonstrated for the first time in a phase II open label clinical trial the efficacy of oral mTORC1 inhibitor everolimus (10 mg daily on a 28 day-cycle schedule) in relapsed or refractory indolent lymphoma. ORR was 35% (95% CI: 24-48%), reaching 61% in  patients with follicular lymphoma, showing that everolimus monotherapy is a valid therapeutic option in relapsed and/or refractory indolent non-Hodgkin lymphoma patients. These studies were published in Am J Hematology and may be accessed here.

April, 2017 – Giacomo Cavalli and his team at the University of Montpellier (Montpellier, France) demonstrated the transgenerational effect of Polycomb Group of proteins (PcG)-mediated chromatin modifications in Drosophila melanogaster. The Cavalli team noted that depending on environmental conditions, eye-color varied in isogenic flies, and this phenotypic variation was stably transmitted across successive generations. This epigenetic “memory” could be rewritten again by changing environmental cues. This work was recently published in Nature Genetics (NPG) and may be accessed here.

April, 2017 – Bojana Jovanovic, previously a Research Fellow at Harvard Medical School and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, is now a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard University (Cambridge, MA, USA). Dr. Jovanovic has been studying the importance of epigenetic heterogeneity in triple negative breast cancer. The Society congratulates Bojana on all her achievements and on the new Position at the Broad Institute!

April, 2017 – I.M. Bennani-Baiti at the Cancer Epigenetics Society was elected to the organizing committee of the 2nd International Congress on Epigenetics and Chromatin taking place on November 6-8 this year (Frankfurt, Germany). This meeting will bring experts from around the world to discuss their latest on epigenetics, epigenomics, pharmacogemomics, nutrition, transgenerational epigenetics, and cancer. More on this meeting and its program may be found here.

April, 2017 – Kiran Batta, formerly a Postdoctoral Fellow at Cancer Research UK, was appointed Oglesby Leukaemia Research Fellow and Group leader at University of Manchester (Manchester, UK). Dr. Batta studies chronic myelomonocytic leukaemia (CMML), a cancer whereby 90% of patients display recurrent mutations in epigenetic modifiers. The Society congratulates Dr. Batta on his promotion and work in the field of cancer epigenetics.

April, 2017 – Hani Choudhry, CEO of Innovative Biomed Co., Director of Central Laboratories, and Head of Cancer Metabolism and Epigenetics Research Unit at King AbdulAziz University (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia), was appointed Visiting Assistant Professor at Stanford University School of Medicine & NIH Centers of Excellence in Genomic Science (Stanford, CA, USA). The Society congratulates Dr. Choudhry on his appointment and contributions to the field of cancer metabolism and cancer epigenetics!

March, 2017 – Leigh Ellis, formerly an Assistant Member at the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics at Roswell Park Cancer Institute (Buffalo, NY, USA), was appointed Member of Faculty of Pathology at the Department of Oncologic Pathology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School (Boston, USA). The Society congratulates Dr. Ellis on his promotion and his work on the epigenetics of metastatic castrate-resistant prostate cancers.

January 2017 – Leigh Ellis and coll. at Roswell Park Cancer Institute (Buffalo, NY, USA) showed that mutant PTEN and loss of RB1 cooperate to drive cell lineage plasticity and metastasis of prostate adenocarcinoma, and that p53 mutation induces antiandrogen therapy resistance and epigenetic reprogramming of genes such as EZH2. Leigh and coll. further showed EZH2-targeting drugs to restore sensitivity to antiandrogen therapy in these tumors, underscoring the potential of epigenetic therapy in prostate cancer. These studies were published in Science and may be accessed here.