Song group | Chemical epigenetics
Dr Chunxiao Song
Our genome is not a static combination of four nucleobases; it contains epigenetic modifications that play crucial biological roles from development to pathogenesis. Epigenetics is based on complex, multi-layer regulatory networks involving DNA, histones and RNA. For example, on the genome level, 5-methylcytosine and the more recently discovered 5-hydroxymethylcytosine are crucial epigenetic marks that influence a broad range of biological functions, and the dysregulation of these are hallmarks of cancer. We combine various chemical biology and genome technologies to develop novel tools to analyse the epigenome. We then apply our tools to two main research areas: the use of epigenetic modifications in circulating cell-free DNA from the blood for non-invasive disease diagnostics including early detection of cancer, and understanding the contribution of epigenetic heterogeneity in cancer development.