Cancer Epigenetic Biomarker Group
Our research focuses on identifying epigenetic alterations in cancer, with a particular interest in breast and prostate cancer. Our goal is to understand the mechanism of epigenetic deregulation in cancer and translate our epigenetic research findings into diagnostic tools with clinical relevance.
Our group has been instrumental in developing new epigenomic technologies that have underpinned seminal discoveries in cancer epigenetics. These discoveries include long-range epigenetic silencing, the role of the methyl-binding domain protein MBD2 in the spread of aberrant DNA methylation and that histone lysine 4 mono-methylation chromatin demarcates regions that become hypermethylated in cancer. A current aim is to understand the epigenetic mechanisms underpinning the evolution of endocrine resistance in breast cancer.
Our group is also actively pursuing the discovery and development of DNA methylated biomarkers in breast cancer. Through whole-genome methylation profiling of normal and tumour DNA in breast cancer, we have identified DNA methylation signatures that predict responses to neoadjuvant chemotherapy in triple negative breast cancer. We have also defined a pan-breast cancer methylated biomarker panel that we are developing as a blood test to detect circulating tumour DNA, in order to monitor and detect breast cancer relapse earlier. Recently, our group developed an improved technique for targeted methylation analysis in low-input clinical material. This is allowing us to validate and refine our methylation biomarker panels in clinical material for clinical use.