Ask The Cancer Experts: Dr Mathieu Lupien


  Here's your chance to Ask the Cancer Experts, of the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, a question. Dr. Mathieu Lupien tackles the topic of epigenetics and how it relates to cancer treatment. #conquercancer
The Princess Margaret Cancer Centre is one of the Top 5 Cancer Research Centers in the world.
Shawna: My question is I’ve heard a little bit about epigenetics in cancer, and I was wondering what that means?
We went to Dr. Mathieu Lupien, Senior Scientist at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, to tell us more about epigenetics and how it relates to cancer treatment.
What is epigenetics?
Dr. Lupien:  Each cell has the same base genetic code yet each cell has a different function. Epigenetics is essentially the markers on the genetic code that specify how each cell functions.
How does this relate to cancer treatment?
Dr. Lupien: In cancer cells, the epigenetic markers are completely chaotic. The markers are not where they should be, some could be missing while others are added. Instead of a clear genetic code determining a cells function, “you end up with a horror story that gives rise to cancer.”
What can be done with this information?
Dr. Lupien:  We can do a lot. Epigenetics can be used to identify what type of cancer a patient has. It can serve as a bio-marker to decipher what type of cancer a patient has, or whether a tumour will be responsive to a given type of treatment. It also helps determine the dependencies for the tumour cell to grow, based on the tumour’s encoded genome. With that information, doctors can identify targeted treatments that will be geared towards the specific type of tumour.
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