Andrew Feinberg, professor and director of Molecular Medicine, has published two papers in Nature Genetics this year that address the role of stochasticity, or controlled randomness, in cancer and in development generally. It's a new area pioneered by Dr. Feinberg and his colleagues in the Whiting School of Engineering. In one paper, they show that pancreatic cancer metastasis is caused by large-scale changes in the epigenome that affect variability of gene expression and therefore the ability of tumors to grow in a changing environment of the host like metastasis. In the other paper, they derive the first biologically and mathematically grounded epigenomic landscape model, and show how it can help to understand embryogenesis, cancer and aging.
Nature Genetics Publications:
- Epigenomic reprogramming during pancreatic cancer progression links anabolic glucose metabolism to distant metastasis
- Potential energy landscapes identify the information-theoretic nature of the epigenome