Support is requested for a Keystone Symposia meeting entitled Cancer Epigenetics, organized by Sharon Y.R. Dent, Jean-Pierre Issa and Peter A. Jones. The meeting will be held in Santa Fe, New Mexico from February 4 - 9, 2014. Epigenetic changes are now recognized to be as important to cancer formation as are gene mutations. Unlike mutations, however, epigenetic states can be altered, and epigenetic therapies hold promise as anti-cancer agents. For these approaches to succeed, we must understand how epigenetic states are created and maintained, and how they are altered in particular malignancies. The Keystone Symposia meeting on Cancer Epigenetics will highlight large scale epigenome mapping efforts in normal cells, stem cells, and cancer cells, as well as genetic and biochemical studies focused on defining the mechanistic underpinning of these states. The meeting will bring together basic scientists studying the enzymes that govern epigenetic marks, particularly DNA methylation and histone post translational modifications, with translational and clinical researchers who are developing and implementing new epigenetic therapies. Opportunities for cross fertilization of ideas and interdisciplinary interactions will be further strengthened by joint keynote and plenary sessions with the concurrent meeting on Transcriptional Regulation.
Epigenetic changes underlie many human diseases and disorders, including cancers, neurological diseases, diabetes, and birth defects. However, epigenetic states are not permanent, and epigenetic drugs hold much promise for cancer therapy. To fully harness the power of epigenetics in the war against cancer, we must understand what epigenetic changes occur in specific types and stages of cancer, how those changes come to be, and their molecular consequences. The Keystone Symposia meeting on Cancer Epigenetics will promote exchange of information and ideas that will enable realization of the promise of epigenetic cancer therapies.