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About Andrea P
Andrea received her B.S. in Biology with minors in Chemistry and Neuroscience from Duke University. She first fell in love with biology when she learned about the magnificent powers of protein folding, and then naturally wanted to know who was in charge. She’s fascinated by the finer controls of epigenetic modifications. In her downtime, she enjoys hiking with her dog and going for long drives to explore new places.

Exposure to Parabens While Pregnant Could Lead to Obese Offspring

August 18, 2020 Andrea P

The paraben family of substances—including methylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben—are preservatives frequently found in cosmetics. Approximately 90% of products found in grocery stores contain some amounts of parabens, making it difficult for even the most careful consumer to completely steer clear of them. Those concerned are less nervous about individual items’ paraben levels, with the acceptable range being set by the Food and Drug Administration, and more worried about the potential effects of cumulative exposure. That is, until we start discussing pregnant [more…]

Premature Birth Can Leave Epigenetic Marks on Child’s DNA

May 6, 2020 Andrea P

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the annual figure for preterm births is 15 million babies, which is somewhere in between 5% and 10% of all births worldwide. These babies are born before 37 weeks’ gestation, and are known to be at higher risk for health complications at birth that include: respiratory issues, eye problems, and even neurodevelopmental disorders. But what are the specific molecular mechanisms that drive these health problems? After all, once born, premature babies are given [more…]

Epigenetic Marker in Blood May Help Detect Alzheimer’s

April 14, 2020 Andrea P

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 47 million people worldwide are living with Alzheimer’s. But since it can take 20 years for brain changes to accumulate into the symptoms that lead to diagnosis, effective intervention can be difficult. Even diagnosis itself poses a challenge, with only one out of every four people suffering from Alzheimer’s actually receiving a diagnosis. This is why scientists have been looking to find anything they can leverage to help pinpoint which patients are more likely to have [more…]

Insight Into the Inheritance of Epigenetic Marks

April 3, 2020 Andrea P

An individual’s DNA contains the sequence of nucleotide bases that provide instructions for how every cell in their body is to develop and differentiate. When DNA is read, its instructions are followed to guide the development of cells, allowing genes to be “expressed”. Scientists are actively working to map out the cellular signaling pathways that determine how DNA is differentially expressed, as well as the things that could go wrong, which could ultimately end up in disease. But there’s an added [more…]

Vaccine Targets Viral Epigenetic Modification, Could Prevent Respiratory Infection

March 17, 2020 Andrea P

As COVID-19 is proving to the world, viruses are powerful biological agents, capable of rapidly effecting massive damage and fatality. And yet, they’re so simple: a virus is merely comprised of pieces of genetic material—either RNA or DNA—wrapped in a protein envelope, which is known as a “capsid.” But coronaviruses are not the only type of virus out there, nor the only one capable of heavy destruction. Human metapneumovirus (HMPV) was officially discovered in 2001, although evidence points to its [more…]

Epigenetic Changes May Trigger Colorectal Cancer in Unhealthy Guts

March 3, 2020 Andrea P

Data from the Global Cancer Observatory (GLOBOCAN) shows that colorectal cancer is the third most lethal cancer in the world. Millions of new cases are diagnosed each year, with a trend that is steadily increasing—and this growth is fastest in countries where the “western diet” is prevalent. Lifestyle factors seem to contribute to some extent. Researchers are scrambling to make sense of exactly how. In fact, a subtype of colorectal cancer is known as sporadic colorectal cancer (CRC) occurs in [more…]

Epigenetics May Be Reason For Ineffective Depression Treatment

February 25, 2020 Andrea P

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 264 million people worldwide are affected by depression at any point in time. Each year, about 800,000 people die by suicide, which is also the second leading cause of death in people between the ages of 15 and 29 years old.  Depression is a crippling illness that can affect anybody at any time. Understanding the molecular and genetic factors at play in depression is critical to developing effective treatment methods to address it [more…]

Drug Combination May Epigenetically Help Prevent Breast Cancer

February 11, 2020 Andrea P

Approximately one out of every eight women in the United States will develop breast cancer at some point in their lives. Breast cancer is considered to be the most lethal cancer for women outside of lung cancer. The economic implications of breast cancer are also huge; setting aside the medical costs faced, breast cancer costs a whopping $6.2 billion in lost wages. With no surefire way to universally detect breast cancer early, it can be difficult to intervene early. Treatments must [more…]

High Sugar Diet May Epigenetically Affect Sperm Quality

February 4, 2020 Andrea P

Obesity continues to be a rising problem in the US. It can result in a number of negative health effects that can shorten life expectancy like diabetes, hypertension, and can even alter the functionality of sperm in men. With fertility levels in recent decline for both women and men it’s important to understand all factors that contribute to healthy reproduction. While correlation does not necessarily mean causation, the relationship between fertility and obesity is important to focus on, and it [more…]

Epigenetic Mechanism May Limit CRISPR Effectiveness

January 21, 2020 Andrea P

CRISPR technology has been one of the hottest tools to emerge in genetics research. Developed based on the modes of defense used by bacteria, CRISPR/Cas9 proteins destroy pathogen DNA in order to prevent the bacterial cells. Scientists were able to then leverage this ability into a tool that can be used to edit genes so that DNA sequences could be altered directly to modify gene expression. The introduction of CRISPR/Cas9 into the biological research toolbox has been revolutionary, primarily in [more…]

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