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Using Epigenetics in Lung Cancer

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In a phase I/II trial, patients with heavily-pretreated recurrent metastatic non–small cell lung cancer were given low doses of azacitidine and entinostat. These are both inhibitors of DNA methylation, and the treatment demethylated four epigenetically-silenced genes known to be linked with lung cancer – these patients had improved progression-free survival. Overall, the patients tolerated the therapy well. Bearing in mind that these are heavily pretreated patients not responding to therapy, two patients showed a positive response to the epigenetic therapy, and four patients responded well to standard anticancer therapies given afterwards.

This could have potential as a treatment alone and in combination with standard chemotherapy in patients with epigenetic changes, and the set of genes has potential as a prognostic and predictive biomarker.