Special Issue "The Use of Epigenetic Biomarkers as Diagnostic and Therapeutic Options 2.0"

A special issue of Epigenomes (ISSN 2075-4655).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 April 2022.

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Yuen Yee Cheng
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Asbestos Diseases Research Institute, Concord, NSW, Australia
Interests: cancer epigenetic; molecular diagnostics; DNA methylation; microRNA; non-invasive diagnostic; tumour suppressor
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Epigenetic changes are key processes driving cellular aging, development, and carcinogenesis. Epigenetic dysregulation is a universal feature of neoplasms and is considered a hallmark of cancer. Subsequently, the study of the epigenome has attracted considerable attention for developing biomarker detection methods and therapeutic discovery for various malignancies for over a decade. Many drugs have been developed and have obtained FDA approval to be used in clinical practice. The distinctive signatures of which biomarkers can be used to identify patients who may potentially benefit from such treatment options are yet to be explored. Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, many researchers are discussing the link between the COVID-19 SARS virus and epigenetic alterations in cancer patients. For example, the expression of angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), the receptor of COVID-19, is aberrantly expressed in many tumors. Some cancer drugs could also be repurposed as COVID-19 treatments.

We previous discussed that amongst all epigenetic alterations, DNA methylation is the most widely studied in cancer. This is because the status of DNA methylation changes during different stages of carcinogenesis can be readily detected using current technology. The advantage of using epigenetic changes as biomarkers is their stability and availability in many sample types. With modern technology, the detection of epigenetic changes can also be useful as a detection tool in non-invasive biospecimens such as blood plasma and serum.

Epigenetic changes are also useful for treatment discovery, as different malignancies present with different epigenetic signatures and therefore the reversal of this phenotype presents as a targetable therapy. For example, global DNA hypermethylation can be reversed with demethylation agents such as decitabine, while histone modification alterations can be attenuated with TSA or SAHA. Additionally, downregulated tumor-suppressor microRNA expression can be restored by synthetic microRNA replacement therapy. Epigenetic biomarkers including DNA methylation, histone modification, microRNA, circular RNA, non-coding RNA, etc. can all potentially be influenced by the COVID-19 virus RNA. The understanding of this complex relationship will facilitate not only treatment options for COVID-19 patients, but also cancer patients.

The present Special Issue aims to publish high-quality research articles as well as review contributions on a variety of topics related to epigenetic biomarkers, COVID-19, and therapeutic options.

Potential topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Types of epigenetic biomarkers used in clinical practice for different diseases:
    • DNA methylation of circulating or non-circulating DNA;
    • Histone modification (e.g., histone methylation and acetylation);
    • microRNA, circular RNA, and other non-coding RNA;
  • Methods of new epigenetic biomarker discovery;
  • The potential of liquid biopsy for epigenetic biomarker detection;
  • The process of developing of epigenetic biomarkers as treatment options for clinical practice.

Dr. Yuen Yee Cheng
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Epigenomes is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Epigenetic Analyses of Alcohol Consumption in Combustible and Non-Combustible Nicotine Product Users
Epigenomes 2021, 5(3), 18; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/epigenomes5030018 - 01 Sep 2021
Viewed by 693
Alcohol and tobacco use are highly comorbid and exacerbate the associated morbidity and mortality of either substance alone. However, the relationship of alcohol consumption to the various forms of nicotine-containing products is not well understood. To improve this understanding, we examined the relationship [...] Read more.
Alcohol and tobacco use are highly comorbid and exacerbate the associated morbidity and mortality of either substance alone. However, the relationship of alcohol consumption to the various forms of nicotine-containing products is not well understood. To improve this understanding, we examined the relationship of alcohol consumption to nicotine product use using self-report, cotinine, and two epigenetic biomarkers specific for smoking (cg05575921) and drinking (Alcohol T Scores (ATS)) in n = 424 subjects. Cigarette users had significantly higher ATS values than the other groups (p < 2.2 × 10−16). Using the objective biomarkers, the intensity of nicotine and alcohol consumption was correlated in both the cigarette and smokeless users (R = −0.66, p = 3.1 × 10−14; R2 = 0.61, p = 1.97 × 10−4). Building upon this idea, we used the objective nicotine biomarkers and age to build and test a Balanced Random Forest classification model for heavy alcohol consumption (ATS > 2.35). The model performed well with an AUC of 0.962, 89.3% sensitivity, and 85% specificity. We conclude that those who use non-combustible nicotine products drink significantly less than smokers, and cigarette and smokeless users drink more with heavier nicotine use. These findings further highlight the lack of informativeness of self-reported alcohol consumption and suggest given the public and private health burden of alcoholism, further research into whether using non-combustible nicotine products as a mode of treatment for dual users should be considered. Full article
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