Cancer is the second leading cause of mortality in the United States. There are several therapeutic regimens employed to mitigate the mortality rate of cancer. This includes the use of chemotherapy, radiation, immunotherapy, and precision medicine/targeted therapy. Targeted therapy involves the use of drugs that target a specific pathway or biomolecule compromised in cancer for cancer treatment. Aberrant expression of epigenetic enzymes has been well documented for their contribution in driving tumorigenesis and other cancer hallmarks. Hence, there is an urgent need for novel drug discovery and development in epigenetics to help combat various cancer morbidities. Herein, we review the roles and consequences of dysregulated function of several epigenetic enzymes, with a focus on histone methyltransferases (HMTs). Additionally, we discussed the current efforts made in the development of small molecule inhibitors for a few representative HMTs implicated in different cancers. Furthermore, the common screening assays used in discovering potent small molecule inhibitors were also detailed in this chapter. Overall, this book chapter highlights the significance of targeting HMTs in different cancers and the clinical application potentials/limitations faced by the developed or emerging small molecule inhibitors of HMTs for the purpose of cancer therapy.
Part of the book: Translational Research in Cancer