Epigenetics constitutes the study of the heritable changes in gene expression that do not require or generally involve changes in the genomic DNA sequence. The field began as a series of isolated observations on developmental phenomena in three disparate areas of biology more than 60 years ago, but following the advent of genomic technologies, epigenetics became primarily concerned with understanding the handling of genetic information by eukaryotic cells. The treatment of cancer and other diseases of epigenetic interest has spawned a new area of clinical investigation. In vitro studies and small clinical studies of various che-motherapeutic agents in the treatment of cancer and other diseases of epigenetic interest have demonstrated intriguing results while several second-generation drugs are in development or are undergoing evaluation at various early stages of clinical trial, resulting in a new area of clinical investigation. Today the field is recognized as a stand-alone discipline complementary to genetics and pharma-cogenetics.
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