Circulating nucleosomes and nucleosome modifications as biomarkers in cancer
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McAnena, Peter; Brown, James; Kerin, Michael (2017). Circulating nucleosomes and nucleosome modifications as biomarkers in cancer. Cancers 9 (1),
Traditionally the stratification of many cancers involves combining tumour and clinicopathological features (e.g., patient age; tumour size, grade, receptor status and location) to inform treatment options and predict recurrence risk and survival. However, current biomarkers often require invasive excision of the tumour for profiling, do not allow monitoring of the response to treatment and stratify patients into broad heterogeneous groups leading to inconsistent treatment responses. Here we explore and describe the benefits of using circulating biomarkers (nucleosomes and/or modifications to nucleosomes) as a non-invasive method for detecting cancer and monitoring response to treatment. Nucleosomes (DNA wound around eight core histone proteins) are responsible for compacting our genome and their composition and post-translational modifications are responsible for regulating gene expression. Here, we focus on breast and colorectal cancer as examples where utilizing circulating nucleosomes as biomarkers hold real potential as liquid biopsies. Utilizing circulating nucleosomes as biomarkers is an exciting new area of research that promises to allow both the early detection of cancer and monitoring of treatment response. Nucleosome-based biomarkers combine with current biomarkers, increasing both specificity and sensitivity of current tests and have the potential to provide individualised precision-medicine based treatments for patients.
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