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Noël Raynal

Epigenetic therapy for pediatric acute leukemia: From the bench to the clinic

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Noël J-M Raynal, M.Sc., Ph.D.

noelNoël Raynal is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Pharmacology of the Université de Montréal since July 2013, and his laboratory is based at Sainte-Justine Hospital Research Center. Dr Raynal completed his PhD focusing on epigenetic pharmacology of cancer at the INRS-Institut Armand-Frappier under the supervision of Dr Charbonneau and Dr Momparler. Then, he completed his postdoctoral fellowship focusing on the discovery of new epigenetic drugs in the laboratory of Dr Jean-Pierre J. Issa at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston (Texas) and then at the Fels Institute for Molecular Biology and Cancer Research in Philadelphia (Pennsylvania). His work has led to several publications and the discovery of new epigenetic drugs. In addition, he discovered a new epigenetic combination which he and his colleagues brought into a phase I/IIa clinical trial.

As a new investigator, Dr Raynal’s research program is focused on targeting epigenetic aberrations to improve the treatment of pediatric leukemia. Epigenetics refers to heritable changes in gene expression that are not related to changes in DNA sequence. These modifications, such as DNA methylation, histone acetylation and methylation are altered in pediatric leukemia. Interestingly, pediatric leukemia is characterized by several mutations in genes involved in several epigenetic pathways. These alterations trigger epigenomic modifications and represent potential targets to improve the treatment of pediatric leukemia. Thanks to the Cole Foundation transition grant, Dr Raynal’s laboratory will investigate the effects and the molecular mechanism of action of new epigenetic drug combinations against pediatric leukemia using several preclinical models. The long-term goal is to better understand epigenetic modifications in pediatric leukemia and to develop new targeted epigenetic therapies to improve efficacy of the treatments.