CLL Support Association

Epigenetic code cracker: why skin cells are skin cells and not neurons

Epigenetic code cracker: why skin cells are skin cells and not neurons

Ryan Lister, Professor of Genetics at University of Western Australia (UWA), is one of four recipients of the Australian Prime Minister's Science Prize for recognise excellence in science and science teaching and was awarded the Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year. In the article referenced below, Ryan explains how our different body cells that all arose from identical DNA in one cell at conception, differentiate into the different cell types.

Ryan and his colleagues developed a technique that can identify the differences in the epigenome of essentially any type of cell, in any organism; powerful stuff. Completing DNA sequencing of the human genome is only the start of our discoveries that promises to usher in totally new medical procedures. We'll need tools like that developed at the UWA to build our understanding of what the tens of millions of molecular tags that define a cell's epigenome do, so that we can tackle such wide ranging problems such as reversing the effects of aging, body part regeneration and even curing cancer.

As Ryan concludes: "The ongoing DNA sequencing revolution makes this an extraordinary time to study the genome, allowing unprecedented insights into the genomic and epigenomic information that plays such a crucial role in both health and disease."

Photo: "Did I do something to offend you?" Two galahs not on the best of terms.


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Interesting... millions of light switches.. on or off... epigenetics... binary code... we all know what happens when your computer crashes... cancer...

Just call me hypermetholated :-)


Many thanks Neil.

Great post, and great work.

We've heard before that the epigenetics are often messed up in SLL/CLL patients (perhaps that explains the wide variety of symptoms we get).

That is by far the best explanation of how they work I've heard/read so far, so worthy of a pinned post please.

Best Regards,



Other projects... that may be of interest ...

The Epigenetic CLL project run by the Spanish...

The International Cancer Genome Consortium in Canada


Here is an advanced paper on CLL epigenetics ...


Interesting to read from your post today Chris, that one of the research grants by Leukemia and Lymphoma Society was to fund research into epigenetic manipulation treatment approaches for CLL:

"Javier Pinilla, M.D., Ph.D., Moffitt Cancer Center. Project title: Combinatorial immunotherapeutic approaches for the treatment of CLL through epigenetic manipulation"


For people just now finding this thread, AussieNeal started a new thread based on another excellent article from The Conversation:

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