Epigenetics refers to changes in gene expression that occur through various chemical alterations, including the addition of methyl groups on DNA, changes in chromatin accessibility, and modifications to the chromosomal packaging in our cells.
Epigenetic marks add a new dimension of biological data and provide key insights about gene expression. Improving the underlying tools to study and analyze epigenetics will allow us to fundamentally drive new paradigms for both disease detection and disease treatment.
Methylation has been implicated as a key driver for a number of diseases, including early signs of cancer and neurodegenerative disease. Current approaches, however, rely on noisy methods that rely on sequence conversion and degradation.
The ability to modulate epigenetic sites of interest can serve as programmable switches for disease. Altering the epigenetic status of genes while keeping the genomic sequences unchanged offers the opportunity to create a new paradigm for epi-therapeutics.
Comparing healthy and diseased epigenetic states can provide key insights into drug development, allowing for the screening and selection of promising pre-clinical compounds. Methylation patterns in blood can also create more effective patient stratification strategies in clinical settings.