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Circulating Nucleosomes and Nucleosome Modifications as Biomarkers in Cancer

Discipline of Surgery, Lambe Institute for Translational Research, School of Medicine, National University of Ireland Galway, H91 YR71, Galway, Ireland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
ORCID: 0000-0002-3155-0334.
Academic Editor: Samuel Mok
Received: 14 November 2016 / Revised: 31 December 2016 / Accepted: 1 January 2017 / Published: 8 January 2017
(This article belongs to the Collection Histone Modification in Cancer)
PDF [1312 KB, uploaded 10 January 2017]


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. View Full-Text
Keywords: breast cancer; histone; colorectal; circulating; biomarker; miRNA; microRNA; posttranslational; modification breast cancer; histone; colorectal; circulating; biomarker; miRNA; microRNA; posttranslational; modification

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McAnena, P.; Brown, J.A.L.; Kerin, M.J. Circulating Nucleosomes and Nucleosome Modifications as Biomarkers in Cancer. Cancers 2017, 9, 5.

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