DNA methylation plays a critical role in the regulation of gene expression, differentiation and in the development of cancer and other diseases. Hypermethylation of CpG islands located in the promoter regions of tumor suppressor genes is now firmly established as the most frequent mechanism for gene inactivation in cancers. Feasibility of using DNA methylation based biomarkers for early detection of cancer has been shown. Potential of using DNA methylation for prediction of therapeutic outcome and patient survival has also been shown. DNA originated from cancer cells has been routinely detected in clinical specimens (ex. Plasma/serum, sputum, urine etc.) from cancer patients. Presence of methylated DNA sequences in clinical specimens and potential of using them as biomarkers have been recognized. Novel methylation based biomarkers that can be used in clinical specimens, obtained non-invasively from cancer patients, offer significant practical advantages. More resources need to be committed to this area of biomarker research. Thus, we review recent findings on DNA methylation based cancer biomarkers with particular focus on these applicable to the clinical specimens obtained non-invasively from cancer patients.
Keywords: DNAmethylation, cancer, promoter methylation, hypermethylation, hypomethylation, non-invasive biomarker, body-fluids
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