Research Projects - Epigenetic histone binding therapies
There has been significant press over the plummeting costs of genotyping, and rightfully so. In the next 15 years the cost of sequencing your entire genome should drop to the price of a cup of cappuccino, be free, or even be a product you get paid to allow someone to perform and access. However, less light has been shed on the ramifications of the epigenetic information that will be coming. Epigenetic data regards the turning on and off of genes in your DNA. While you could have your DNA sequenced once and have that data be correct for the rest of your life (unless you develop cancer), your epigenome could be “resequenced” at every doctors visit and change. In fact, reading someone’s epigenetics could be the best way to see if treatments are working. Prescribing exercise or a nutrition system could then be monitored by seeing if certain deleterious genes are turned off epigenetically. Admittedly the knowledge and low cost of epigenetic information is far behind that of genomic data, but it will no doubt follow quickly. The tools used in computational drug design, are now being turned to create therapeutics to effect someone’s epigenetics. Namely the methylation of histones can be targeted by rationally created therapeutics. Future research in my lab may include targeting histone deacetylase, largely because they are the best described targets currently. Currently I am developing an epigenetic database which will allow for rank ordering actions people can take to improve their helath based on odd ratios in primary literature. This projects allows students to participate by doing leterature review and inputting that article in a database format. Apps and/or webpages will be developed to allow for screening of the data. For example, a patient could determine what the relative efficacy is in reducing breast cancer for running, lifting weights, or sleeping 1 hour extra.