Gene Silencing in Cancer

Emory has discovered that in cancer cells, good genes are turned off and bad genes are turned on by a process called DNA methylation. Methylation causes "good," cancer fighting genes to be suppressed or "silenced." If the methyl groups attached to the DNA controling the good genes could be removed and unsilenced, the good genes then can express themselves and suppress the cancer.

Emory's research is focusing on soy isoflavones, antioxidants found in soy beans, soy milk, or anything made of soy flour, have been shown to reverse methylation and help to "unsilence" these good genes, allowing them to fight the growth of cancer cells. Preventing methylation of the good genes may not only prevent cancer, but may also help in the treatment of cancer through chemotherapy and radiation, thereby decreasing the progression and metastasis of cancer.

Patient Advantages:

  • Because soy isoflavones are readily accessible in the market, many nutritional compounds used for therapy of disease prevention can be taken as part of a routine diet and have very little, if any, side effects.
  • Emory has discovered that soy isoflavones enhance the efficacy of chemotherapy and decreases its side effects; isoflavones also increase the efficacy of radiation while decreasing the toxicity.

Why Emory?

Emory is currently developing a program specific to nutrition and cancer prevention. In this area, Emory is at the leading edge of cancer research. Not only do we have the expertise in detection and cancer treatment, we are also researching ways to prevent it.

Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University