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  1. As mentioned in today's teleconference, I am a consumer representative on a research project being conducted at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney into better management of active surveillance using epigenetics. Epigenetics is about whether genes are turned on or off, rather than whether they are there or not (genetics). One of the major epigenetic mechanisms is methylation, the addition of methyl groups to the DNA strands. If they are added near individual genes, they can turn off the activity of that gene. Researchers are also doing an epigenetic project in the Advanced Prostate Cancer setting and showed me some of the results. There were two groups of guys with similar genetics and the same array of genes of interest for each. All had access to the usual treatment options. One group showed very low methylation rates at the selected genes whereas the other had high methylation rates at the same genes. All the guys with high methylation rates are dead and all the guys with the low methylation rates are alive. Epigenetics may be the key to cracking this problem although there is lots more work to do. These researchers have the capacity to look at the entire genome, they are not restricted to a small number of genes. The research group is also looking at biomarkers and potential therapeutics in this space. I am very heartened by these developments.
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