The study into genetics has fascinated humans for centuries. The modern science of seeking to understand this fascinating field began with the research done by Gregor Mendol in the middle of the 19th century. From the backbones of these studies have developed the building blocks of modern medicine as we know it. For instance, there is a multitude of research on DNA methyltransferase – for just one example of these resources, click here. In this article, we’ll examine what this is exactly and why it is an important field of study in the realms of medicine. 

What Is DNA Methyltransferase?

In the field of biochemistry, DNA methyltransferase is a group of enzymes that catalyze the transference of a methyl group to DNA. This process serves various biological functions and 95% of known DNA methyltransferases use SAM as the methyl donor. 

When a nucleophile (like carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, and sulphur) on a methyl group, it creates the methylated products of substances like nucleic acids, proteins, and lips. Methylation is a crucial epigenetic modification in organisms. Epigenetics studies how behaviour and environment can affect the way genes work. These changes are reversible and although they don’t change the sequence of DNA, they do change how the body reads the sequence of DNA. The addition of a methyl group blocks proteins that read the gene from attaching to DNA. These changes affect gene expression to turn genes “on” and “off”. These modifications have been implicated in many types of cancer, several genetic syndromes, or metabolic diseases. If there any abnormalities to be found in the methyltransferase gene, it leads to critical conditions like embryonic lethality, acute monocytic leukaemia, and immunodeficiency diseases. 

The Potential Advantages

Although abnormalities in methyltransferase can cause sickness, DNA methyltransferase can also be used in the treatment of diseases, for example targeted inhibition for cancer therapy. As discussed, there are epigenetic changes that affect your health. These changes can increase your cancer risk. Cancer cells have a lower DNA methylation level than that of normal cells and even cancers that look similar can have distinctive DNA methylation patterns. Epigenetics is then used to distinguish the type of cancer than a person has, and it can help to find cancers that are not easily detectable. 

What is the Role of DNA Methylation in Cancer?

The second leading cause of death in the US is cancer. It’s projected that in 2022, 1.9 million new cancer cases will be diagnosed, and 1,670 deaths are expected to occur every day. With these staggering facts in mind, it’s easy to see why so much energy and so many resources need to be poured into the study of cancer, how to identify it early and treat it efficiently. Epigenetic alterations are recognised as useful targets in the development of therapies for cancer and DNA methylation is the most common epigenetic modification in mammals. The levels of DNMTs increase in cancer tissues and cells, hence the inhibition of DNMTs has resulted in significant reductions in tumour formations. Therefore, DNMTs have the potential to be used as anti-cancer targets. Identifying and creating new rugs that could specifically target DNMTs could lead to a whole new generation of anti-cancer medicines, and a whole new strategy of treatment. The development of cancer stem cell targeting therapy combine with the use of DNMT inhibitors will hopefully restrain the growth of this awful disease. 

Also Read: What does an Oncologist do and what are the treatments for Cancer.

The Lab Equipment Needed to Study Methyltransferase Enzymes

The study of methyltransferase enzymes is difficult without access to high-throughput instruments. This equipment is essential to this success of this kind of study. 

So, what are high-throughput instruments?

High-throughput screening instruments are used especially in the discovering of drugs and in the fields of biology, chemistry, and biology. By combining the use of robotics, data, processing, and sensitive detectors, high-throughput machines give a researcher the power to quickly conduct millions of tests, chemical, genetic, or pharmacological. This process enables the researcher to quickly recognise active compounds, antibodies and genes, the results of which provide starting points for the design of drugs.

Although high-throughput screening is a relatively recent innovation, it is being increasingly utilised in biomedical research. Universities and academia globally are beginning to develop their facilities to allow them to do their own studies and research into drugs. For example, UCLA has a high-throughput screening laboratory which can screen over 100,00 compounds a day on a regular basis. This lab has an open access policy so that researchers all over the world can take advantage of this facility. The Rockefeller University in New York City also has an open-access high-throughput screening resource centre which boasts a library of more than 380,000 compounds. There are even non-profit centres that now have HTS facilities.

Getting Access to the Needed Equipment

If you don’t have access to a facility like those mentioned, or you’re looking to improve the facilities where you currently operate, the idea of purchasing high-throughput instruments can feel daunting. These modern, high-tech pieces of machinery are expensive and purchasing such equipment outright is a challenge when you’re setting up a lab. If this is an issue for you, you can find a company that offers a leasing program to suit your unique laboratory needs. These leasing arrangements can help you save time and money. It helps you and your team to work more efficiently and focus your efforts on your research, thereby contributing to the success of your work. Leasing options give you the ability to move with the changing times and improve your research team without using all your budget on one piece of equipment. With instruments like this in your arsenal, you can do your part to contribute to the valuable and rewarding research into diseases and their cures. You and your team can make a real difference to the world, this generation and even generations to come. With the knowledge that comes with this powerful research, comes the ability to change the future, ultimately for the better. We hope you now understand what is DNA methyltransferase and its role.

Disclaimer: The statements, opinions, and data contained in these publications are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of Credihealth and the editor(s). 

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