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Aug 30, 2010
 |  BioCentury  |  Emerging Company Profile

Epizyme: Expanding Epigenetics

Epizyme targeting cancer sub-populations with small molecule HMT inhibitors

Most epigenetics research, and consequently the only approved epigenetic drugs, have focused on two classes of targets: HDACs and DNA methyltransferases. Epizyme Inc. is avoiding those well-trod areas, focusing instead on a less well-known family of epigenetic enzymes called histone methyltransferases.

The company believes inhibitors of these targets may be able to address more specific patient populations than HDAC or DNA methyltransferase inhibitors, which are promiscuous and can cause off-target side effects.

According to President and CEO Robert Gould, Epizyme used public information emerging from cancer genome projects to identify HMTs that have strong associations with human cancers, particularly those caused by a genetic translocation or mutation. The company uses its biochemical assay technology to confirm the association between the enzyme and cancer.

The approach identified 20 priority targets among the 96 known HMTs, EVP...

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