Cut Out the Hype: Gene Editing With CRISPR and the Truth about Superhuman ‘Designer Babies’

February 28, 2017 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Stories about a mysterious tool that can cut out and replace genes have crept out from behind the lab walls and entered boldly into the public spotlight. Nowadays, CRISPR is everywhere. And we can’t help but let our imaginations wander, especially when the questions posed by this novel gene editing technology come straight out of a sci-fi movie. Can we edit out bad genes that cause diseases in humans and replace them with healthy ones? Might parents be able to [more…]

Air Pollution Could Alter Tags on DNA and Increase Risk for Neurodegenerative Disease

February 21, 2017 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Not only is air pollution a major environmental concern, but it poses major health issues. New research suggests that inhaling extremely small particles known as fine particulate matter could add epigenetic marks to DNA. This may potentially lead to stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, cognitive impairments and neurodevelopmental disorders. We’re certainly learning more about how our exposure to environmental toxins, especially pollution, affects the chemical tags that attach to our DNA and our health. Previous studies have linked traffic-related air [more…]

What You Eat Adjusts Your Gut Microbiota and Epigenetic Marks

February 14, 2017 Bailey Kirkpatrick

We’ve long known that what we eat affects the microbes in our bodies. Right now, hundreds of different species of bacteria are churning in our stomachs, working to protect us as well as survive within us. New research is showing that the bacterial microbiota of the gut could place chemical tags on our DNA and influence gene expression, potentially impacting our health and many aspects of our lives. Researchers have found that these microbes send out metabolites that impact epigenetic [more…]

Easing Pain with the Power of Epigenetics

February 7, 2017 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Reducing pain effectively is a common goal of modern medicine, and new research suggests that epigenetics might lead us closer to finding out how to ease pain. People who suffer from serious discomfort, such as those who have experienced severe burns, may someday be able to epigenetically ease their pain and reduce neural activation caused by painful stimuli. “Seeking new pain markers continues to be very important in the field of nociception, which analyses the subjective experience of pain, and [more…]