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…]

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…]

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…]

Smoking Cigarettes Stamps Harmful Epigenetic Fingerprint on DNA

November 8, 2016 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Not only does cigarette smoke severely harm the body, it also leaves behind long-lasting damage on DNA, according to a recent study. An unwanted surplus of chemical marks are added to specific spots on the genome of a smoker, which may give rise to diseases such as a cancer, cardiovascular and lung disorders, and osteoporosis. A group of international researchers conducted a large scale meta-analysis of genome-wide DNA methylation, pulling data from nearly 16,000 people. Around 15% of participants were [more…]

Vitamins A and C Could Erase Epigenetic Marks on DNA

October 25, 2016 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Vitamins may not only benefit your health, but also remove epigenetic memory or marks on your DNA. A new study conducted by an international group of researchers found that vitamins A and C work in different ways to erase methyl tags present on genes. These findings could help to progress new developments in regenerative medicine and bring us closer to understanding how we may be able to reprogram cells from one type to another. Because all cells in the body [more…]

A Heart Attack May Leave Long-Lasting Epigenetic Marks on DNA

October 18, 2016 Bailey Kirkpatrick

A heart attack could leave behind more than just physical damage, according to a new study. Suffering from myocardial infarction, or a heart attack, may lead to the storage of epigenetic marks on certain genes. Researchers from Uppsala University reported in Human Molecular Genetics that an epigenetic “memory” of a heart attack may stick around on DNA long after the heart attack occurred. Both the environment and genetics can determine whether someone is more or less susceptible to cardiovascular disease. [more…]

The Epigenetic Marks of Circulating Cell-Free DNA (cfDNA)

September 16, 2016 Blanca Valle

Circulating cell-free DNA (cfDNA) are small DNA fragments found circulating in plasma or serum, as well as other bodily fluids. The cfDNA isolated from plasma usually contains fragments of about ~170-500 bp, mostly corresponding to ~170 bp mononucleosomal and ~300 bp dinucleosomal DNA fragments [1,2], thought to arise mostly from apoptotic cells. In addition, larger fragments (>1,000 bp) are often detected, thought to arise mostly from necrotic cells. In healthy individuals, the levels of cfDNA in plasma/serum are generally low, ranging between [more…]

1 2 3 4