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…]

Epigenetically Reactivating a Compromised Immune System with a Specific Sugar

December 13, 2016 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Could a certain type of sugar undo the failure of an individual’s immune system? New research suggests that immune cells can be restored in those with a compromised immune system using a sugar known as beta-glucan, which can turn on an epigenetic “control switch”. For many, getting an infection, such as a sinus infection, feels like an intensified, prolonged cold. Bacterial sinus infections are often easily combated with antibiotics, but typically resolve on their own. However, for more than a [more…]

Binge Drinking as a Teen May Epigenetically Harm the Health of Future Generations

December 6, 2016 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Binge drinking as a teenager not only harms your brain and body, but may also epigenetically impact your future children, a new study reports. Excessive drinking in adolescents could turn genes on or off in their offspring’s brain, setting them up for susceptibility to certain diseases. The study, presented at the annual Society for Neuroscience meeting on Nov. 14, 2016, suggests that repeated episodes of excessive drinking when you’re young can actually put your future children at risk for developing [more…]

Editing DNA Methylation Using CRISPR/Cas9

November 29, 2016 Estephany Ferrufino

Gene expression is controlled on several levels from DNA sequence to post-transcriptional changes. Epigenetics demonstrate that gene expression can be controlled by chemical changes in the DNA such as methylation. Since the discovery of epigenetics, researchers have been attempting to produce effective methods to alter the methylation status of select genes. This would enable researchers to effectively turn on or off target genes without affecting the genetic code. Liu et al. (2016) have repurposed the CRISPR/Cas9 system to edit DNA [more…]

Eating Sweet, Fatty Foods During Pregnancy is Linked to ADHD in Children

November 22, 2016 Bailey Kirkpatrick

A high-fat, high-sugar diet during pregnancy could be connected to ADHD in children, suggests new research. A mother’s diet may adjust epigenetic marks that attach to her child’s DNA, potentially increasing the odds that he or she will develop ADHD. Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, has become a prevalent condition in modern society as researchers attempt to explain its dramatic rise. As of 2011, around 6.4 million children ages 4 to 17 have been diagnosed with ADHD according to the CDC. [more…]

Could Exotic Herbs Carry Epigenetic Health Benefits?

November 14, 2016 Bailey Kirkpatrick

A mixture of herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine may be able to reduce inflammation by adding and removing epigenetic marks on DNA, suggests a study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. This alternative medicinal mixture, termed “Wutou decoction”, consists of six different herbs that have been widely used in the traditional Chinese medicine community to alleviate arthritis and other diseases. Now, researchers believe it may have an effect on epigenetic mechanisms known as DNA methylation and histone modifications, [more…]

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