The field of epigenetics has exploded in the last two decades, with incredible advances in recent years driven by high-throughput sequencing studies. Cancer cells frequently exhibit marked changes in DNA methylation and histone modification during tumorigenesis and tumor progression. These changes in the cancer epigenome are thought to be important in initiating and maintaining malignancy, and pharmaceutical approaches targeting epigenome-modifying enzymes are an attractive therapeutic strategy. Early successes have been made with DNA-demethylating drugs in hematologic malignancies, and efforts are underway to target additional epigenetic regulators and a broader array of tumor types. The Reviews in this issue of the JCI highlight ongoing efforts in this burgeoning field to translate our understanding of the cancer epigenome into successful interventional strategies in the clinic.
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