Epigenetic Computer Program ‘CancerLocator’ Detects and Pinpoints Cancer

April 11, 2017 Bailey Kirkpatrick

What if instead of invasive cancer tests, scientists could run a blood sample through a computer program and not only detect whether cancer is present or not, but pinpoint where in the body it’s located? This technology, harnessed by a program called CancerLocator, could potentially be ready in a year. In a recent study published in Genome Biology, researchers from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) developed a computer program that identifies specific epigenetic patterns, or a combination [more…]

Epigenetics to the Rescue on Climate Change

April 4, 2017 Natalie Crowley

The impact of climate change may be one of the greatest threats facing all life on Earth today. Around the world, rising temperatures and extreme weather patterns are already affecting the habitats of many plants and animals. Undoubtedly, their fate will depend on their ability to either migrate away from or adapt to the new environment, and eventually evolve as a species. But, can life on our planet adapt in time? Most researchers believe that the rate in which our [more…]

Most Dangerous Lifestyle Activity Uncovered in New Epigenetic Mortality Risk Profile

March 28, 2017 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Aging and mortality has been a fascinating topic of interest recently, particularly in the field of epigenetics. What are the chemical DNA markers of age? Can we look at someone’s epigenome to determine their risk for death? Could we reverse these epigenetic tags to restore youth or undo the pesky physical characteristics and diseases that come with getting old? And are there lifestyle changes we may need to make to epigenetically improve our own health? Although we are far from [more…]

Natural Compound in Cypress Trees Might Epigenetically Protect Against Cancer

March 21, 2017 Bailey Kirkpatrick

A chemical in an essential oil extracted from tree bark might actually reduce cancer growth. Researchers are finding that hinokitiol, a compound found in some cypress trees, not only has anti-infective and anti-oxidative properties, but it might also impact the epigenetic tags on top of DNA and reactivate genes that fight against tumor growth. The epigenetic mechanism known as DNA methylation has been crucial to our understanding of cancer. Irregular methylation suppresses genes that work to reduce tumor growth, which [more…]

Can Epigenetics Explain the Mystery of Right and Left Handedness?

March 14, 2017 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Are you among the 90% of people who are right-handed or the 10% who are lefties? Have you ever wondered why you naturally favor a certain hand over the other? Now, researchers are suggesting that epigenetics could be the explanation. They are finding that handedness may not be dictated by the brain, as previously thought, but by the environment and epigenetic marks in the spinal cord. “These results fundamentally change our understanding of the cause of hemispheric asymmetries,” the authors concluded [more…]

Demethylating Agent May Boost Chemotherapy Effectiveness for Specific Type of Childhood Leukemia

January 16, 2017 Natalie Crowley

Fifty years ago, a child diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common type of pediatric cancer, had little to no chance of survival. Today, those odds have increased dramatically thanks to tremendous advances in chemotherapy and other treatments. Cure rates for this type of leukemia can reach as high as 90 percent. Yet, there is one subgroup of pediatric ALL that is still very therapy resistant, T-Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (T-ALL). T-ALL is an uncommon, though aggressive, subclass of [more…]

The Epigenetics of Honeybee Memory Offers a Glimpse Into Our Own Minds

January 10, 2017 Bailey Kirkpatrick

The fascinating memory of a honeybee could give us hints about our own long-term memory formation, scientists suggest. According to a new study, epigenetic marks are added to the DNA of honeybees in a response to an enzyme known as DNA methyltransferase (Dmnt) and removed in response to a Dnmt inhibitor drug. This epigenetic mechanism may play a role in memory specificity and influence the removal and re-acquisition of memory. When human memory breaks down or fails, disorders such as [more…]

How Understanding an Individual’s Epigenetics Can Help Measure and Treat Addiction

January 3, 2017 WhatIsEpigenetics

For a long time humans have wondered if chemicals causing drug and alcohol addiction could be active in the genes and potentially passed on to the next generation. Although this was not scientifically proven until recent years, the fear of suffering from addictive diseases led children of addicts and former addicts to avoid alcohol and drugs completely. One of the scientific studies that give weight to this family history hypothesis on addiction was conducted at the Indiana University School of [more…]

Being Overweight Adds Distinct Epigenetic Marks to DNA

December 27, 2016 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Extra weight that you may have put on during the holidays could not only appear around your belly, but also add epigenetic tags to your DNA, suggests a new study. Having a high body mass index (BMI) was linked to additional methyl tags found at more than 200 areas on the genome, which affects gene expression and could predict susceptibility to some diseases like diabetes. “This issue is particularly relevant because an estimated one and a half billion people throughout [more…]

Dogs Exposed to BPA Give Us Epigenetic Clues About Our Own Wellbeing

December 20, 2016 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Exposure to a widespread environmental chemical could cause changes to chemical tags on DNA, which can impact the expression of genes and potentially increase the risk for disease. Researchers studied one of our closest companions – dogs – and the epigenetic effect of bisphenol-A (BPA) found in canned dog food. Since these animals share our environment more closely than any other species, they offer us valuable insight into the exposure of this toxic chemical and its potential epigenetic influence. Extensive [more…]

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