Hello. My name is Thomas Paul,
and I'm the Director of the Cancer Epigenetics Group at Pfizer Oncology,
located in San Diego, California.
Our group at Pfizer has been involved in the development of
small-molecule inhibitors to therapeutically target cancer epigenetic mechanisms.
For the topic of today's talk,
I'm going to give the perspective of a person in
the pharmaceutical industry in terms of how we're thinking about targeting
cancer epigenetics and doing so by understanding the roles of epigenetics and
the dysregulation of epigenetics that appears to be
an important part of the development of human cancer.
Before we consider the role of epigenetics in cancer,
I think it's a good idea to step back and discuss some of the fundamental roles
that epigenetics plays in the regulation of cell identity.
If we consider that essentially every cell in the human body
possesses similar DNA content and similar DNA sequence,
we have to understand that this one style or one genome can give rise to
this really huge diversity in cell types and cell behaviors that we appreciate,
comprises all the tissues and organs in the human body.
It's clear that there really needs to be a separate layer of information
stored in cells that really provides the ability of cells
to change their DNA sequence or their genotype into
these diverse phenotypes that we appreciate in all these different cell types.
Also, if we consider that there's really
some pretty sophisticated structures that evolve in the human body,
in different tissues and organs,
and we understand that these organs are comprised of many different cells,
all of which interact with each other.
Then, we understand that these tissues have to organize themselves through
many types of cell divisions and cell cycles of mitosis.
Through this, these cells need to remember
their cell identity and their cell behavior over multiple generations,
in such a way that these tissues and organs become properly organized.
Again, there needs to be some level of ability of cells to remember who they are,
where they came from, and how they should behave.
Really this concept or this stable and inheritable layer of
cellular information really forms what is
understood to be the fundamental basis of what is epigenetics.
For today's talk, what I'll be covering are some of the key components
of the cell that make up this layer of epigenetic information,
and I'll be discussing how epigenetic changes are
commonly occurring in cancer and how this is really important
for impacting the cell identity that really changes
the cell behavior that we appreciate as
a common event in the development of human cancer.