Gastrointestinal malignancies are among the most common malignancies worldwide. Advances in technology and treatment have improved diagnosis and monitoring of these tumors. As a consequence, identification of new biomarkers that can be applied at different levels of disease is urgently needed. DNA methylation is a process in which cytosines acquire a methyl group in 5 position only if they are followed by a guanine. An emerging catalog of specific genes inactivated by DNA methylation in gastrointestinal tumors has been established. In this review we will give a brief overview of the main sources of DNA used to investigate methylation biomarkers and several related patents. One of these is related to multiple genes that predict the risk of development of esophageal adenocarcinoma. Another evaluated methylation status of 24 genes to find one frequently methylated in primary tumors as well as plasma samples from gastric cancer patients. Others patented the epigenetic silencing of miR-342 as a promissory biomarker for colorectal carcinoma. Thus, the new field of DNA methylation biomarkers holds the promise of better methods for screening, early detection, disease progression and outcome predictor of therapy response in gastrointestinal oncology.
Keywords: Gastrointestinal tumors, DNA methylation, biomarkers, sources of DNA, circulating DNA, tumor suppressor
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