Living in a dreamworld: What genetics (and epigenetics?) can tell us about lucid dreams

September 13, 2022 Mike Spelios

Have you ever become aware that you’re in a dream state while you’re dreaming?  If so, then chances are you’ve had a lucid dream.  Much like Neo plugged into a simulated Matrix, you are cognizant of your altered reality and can even manipulate your dream environment.  Lucid dreams can be quite pleasant for some people.  For others, especially those with “Reward Deficiency Syndrome” (RDS) behaviors like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Tourette’s syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and substance use disorder [more…]

Severe COVID-19 Reaction in Children Carries a Distinctive Epigenetic Signature

August 2, 2022 Natalie Crowley

At the height of the coronavirus pandemic, hospitals in hot zones like New York City were bursting with incoming patients. Remarkably, very few of them were under 18. The reason is still a mystery, but somehow most children and teens appear to be protected from getting the worst of COVID-19.  This assumption was tested in April 2020, when doctors from the UK and US documented a presentation in children of a severe shock-like illness similar to Kawasaki disease or toxic [more…]

Alleviating Epigenetically-Regulated Chronic Pain

June 21, 2022 Natalie Crowley

Pain is a natural symptom of damage to the body, either done by disease or injury. Usually, it subsides upon healing. But when pain persists beyond healing, or occurs for no apparent reason for a prolonged period of time, it is more than just a symptom. It is a chronic condition in its own right that needs attention. However, chronic pain is difficult to treat, even diagnose properly, because it is poorly understood in many cases. Plus, conventional therapies are [more…]

Racial Health Disparities Linked to Epigenetic Elements

February 15, 2022 Natalie Crowley

When it comes to health, race typically has an impact. Evidence compiled over several decades points out marked differences in morbidity and mortality rates across varying racial and ethnic minority groups. And while these disparities can arise from any number of environmental or social exposures, exactly how they detrimentally affect the human body and why they continue to impact certain minority groups is not entirely understood.  Most findings attribute minority health disparities to inequalities in education, socioeconomic status, access to [more…]

A Role for m6A Methylation in the Immune Response of Natural Killer Cells Toward Cancer

November 9, 2021 Natalie Crowley

The body’s first line of defense against infection is the innate immune system. Although it is non-specific and less effective than the acquired immune system, it responds to invading pathogens much faster, holding off an immunological threat until a specific response can be mobilized. One integral part of the innate immune system is natural killer cells (NK). As their name suggests, these cells are capable of killing affected cells autonomously while also signaling an immune response as they secrete pro-inflammatory [more…]

How Inflammation Epigenetically Primes Epithelial Cells to Promote Pancreatic Cancer 

September 28, 2021 Natalie Crowley

Pancreatic cancer may not be as common as some cancers, but it has a bad reputation for being highly fatal, especially since it’s difficult to detect early. Smoking, diabetes, family history, and alcohol abuse are among the top risk factors associated with this disease. While it’s difficult to determine the exact causes of pancreatic cancer, a key mediator in its development is inflammation. Understanding why inflammation might lead to tumor growth in the pancreas has scientists examining the underlying mechanisms [more…]

Time Off Reverses the Adverse Epigenetic Effects of Shift Work Disorder

April 27, 2021 Natalie Crowley

Shift work has been on the rise over the past decade as the demand for real-time goods and services increases globally. This growth has never been more evident than during the past year, as the pandemic forced many people to rely on essential workers for increased medical care, home delivery goods, and other high-demand consumer items.  However, working odd hours, especially through the night, poses fundamental challenges to the body. Not only does it disrupt circadian rhythm or the body’s [more…]

How a Ketogenic Diet May Change Your Gene Expression

March 2, 2021 Brandon Eudy

Over the past few years, ketogenic diets have become one of the most popular weight loss tools out there. Numerous studies show ketogenic diets are effective for weight loss in obese and overweight individuals and if you do a quick social media search for “Ketogenic diet” or “Keto” you will find countless anecdotes that support these scientific studies (1). The therapeutic benefit of ketogenic diets goes beyond weight loss. These diets have been used for nearly a century for the [more…]

Epigenetics May Be Involved in Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

February 16, 2021 Vered Smith

Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) affects about 40 million adults in the U.S aged 20-69 (1). As the name suggests, it is a loss of hearing due to loud noise exposure. The louder the noise and the more often a person is exposed to it, the more it harms their hearing. Although it is the second most likely reason of hearing loss (the first being age), there is currently no cure, and we don’t fully understand how loud noises biologically cause [more…]

Epigenetically Awaking Ancient Parts of Our DNA to Fight Cancer

November 3, 2020 Natalie Crowley

Buried within our DNA, there exists a vast amount of dormant genetic material – a remarkable percentage of which consists of ancient inserted elements that have found their way into our genome, only to be silenced for millions of years.  While the origins of most of these obsolete retroelements are not fully known, their inactive status is epigenetically controlled. It has been suggested that “turning on” these parts of our genome could be useful, especially in fighting off certain diseases [more…]

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