Technological advances, such as chromatin immunoprecipitation followed by next-generation sequencing (ChIP–Seq), and variations on this, have enabled the analysis of the epigenome at base-pair resolution and allowed ‘epigenomic profiling’ in both normal and abnormal cells and tissues. Epigenomic profiling has already proved invaluable by helping to better define critical DNA control elements, such as gene enhancers and promoters.
Numerous human diseases are characterised by a departure from the normal pattern of gene expression and errors in epigenetic processes underpin many of these. However, the reversible nature of most of the known epigenetic modifications of chromatin offer promising therapeutic opportunities for the controlled regulation of disease-related genes via the manipulation of epigenetic mechanisms. With the development of a new suite tools including CRISPR mediated ‘epigenome-editing’, epigenetics will continue to be one of the most innovative research areas in the life sciences and medicine.