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Researchers at the BC Cancer Agency part of global initiative to understand the human “epigenome”

Researchers at the BC Cancer Agency part of global initiative to understand the human “epigenome”

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​Research from the BC Cancer Agency is featured today in the prestigious journal Nature as part of a special issue highlighting 20 papers that are the outcome of a seven year project mapping the epigenome.

The project called, The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Roadmap Epigenomics Program, provides a core set of data, methodology and infrastructure for studying the role of the epigenome in human health and disease. The original goal was to map 25 normal reference epigenomes, but new technology allowed the team to produce 111 highly detailed maps on how the epigenome varies and operates in different settings. 

Dr. Martin Hirst, Head of Epigenomics at the BC Cancer Agency Genome Sciences Centre, is a senior author of the paper Integrative analysis of 111 reference human epigenomes, which integrates all 111 epigenomes into a single comparative analysis. Dr. Hirst and his colleagues also published an in-depth analysis of human breast cell epigenomes, Epigenetic and transcriptional determinant of the human breast. 

The Roadmap Epigenomics Program was the first large-scale epigenome mapping initiative in the world, and has inspired similar mapping efforts, which are united by the International Human Epigenome Consortium (IHEC). The IHEC aims to coordinate the production of at least 1,000 human epigenome maps. Just as the Human Genome Project provided a map of the genes of the human genome, the Roadmap Epigenomics Program offers a resource for understanding how our genetic blueprint is interpreted in different cell and tissue types. The next step will be to map the epigenetic profiles of individuals to understand more about how they vary from person to person and to establish causes between any of these “epigenomic marks” and disease. 

The BC Cancer Agency was part of a team that included the University of California, San Francisco, the University of Southern California, the University of California, Santa Cruz, Washington University, Simon Fraser University, and the University of British Columbia.  ​

Read the full news release on this global initiative​.​

epigenome; Research
 
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