Fall Semester and the Hunt for Graduate School Begin

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It has been a very busy and hectic late summer, and the blog activity reflects that.

On a brighter note, I just started my final year of undergraduate work at Washington State University. This semester I am taking Biochemistry, Perspectives in Biotechnology, Bioinformatics, and Human Genetics. The course load is about average, and after attending the first class sessions for each I am very excited about some and nervous about others.

I spent a lot of the summer considering my options for graduate work and concluded that I am most definitely interested in epigenetics research. I haven’t had the opportunity to discuss my research at larger conferences and meetings, or even here on the blog, but I can certainly wiling to divulge that information to labs looking for a graduate student for next fall.

As most readers know, I work in the laboratory of Dr. Michael Skinner, and am working on an aspect of the project investigating the transgenerational effects of endocrine disruptors on male fertility. The work has been both challenging and rewarding, and it will continue until graduation. But I am not going to restrict my future research to this area of exploration, and other areas of epigenetics research have especially piqued my interest. Histone modifications are probably at the top of my list, but I am excited about many areas of epigenetics research, and even staying in the area of environmental epigenomics is a distinct possibility.

If there are any labs doing epigenetics-related research in the U.S. that are seeking a hard-working graduate student for next fall, please drop me a line at admin AT epigeneticsnews dot com. I’m willing to discuss possibilities with any PIs in epigenetics, but preferably those in the northwest.

MethylGene and Pharmion Expand Collaboration on Epigenetic Therapies

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MethylGene Inc. (TSX:MYG) and Pharmion Corporation (NASDAQ:PHRM) today announced a “research collaboration for the development of novel small molecule inhibitors targeting sirtuins, a separate and distinct class of histone deacetylase enzymes (Class 3 HDACs) implicated in cell survival and death.”

MethylGene and Pharmion’s Class I specific HDAC inhibitor, MGCD0103, has demonstrated efficacy in a number of tumor types, and the sirtuins represent potentially attractive novel cancer targets within a related family of enzymes. Sirtuins (including SIRT1) have been shown to deacetylate histone proteins and numerous transcription factors, leading to promotion of normal cell survival and aberrant gene silencing in cancer cells. Inhibition of sirtuins allows reexpression of silenced tumor suppressor genes, leading to reduced growth of cancer cells, and anti-cancer effects have been observed with SIRT1 inhibitors in vitro and in vivo. As yet, no sirtuin inhibitors have entered the clinic. Synergies in gene reexpression have been demonstrated by combining SIRT1 inhibition with either standard cytotoxics or other epigenetic modifying drugs, including inhibitors of DNA methylation and histone deacetylation. Two epigenetic therapy combinations are already under active investigation in Phase II studies combining Pharmion’s Vidaza, a DNA hypomethylating agent, with MethylGene and Pharmion’s HDAC inhibitor, MGCD0103. The parties intend to explore combinations with resulting anti-sirtuins as well.