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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.

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…]

Does A Slow Cellular Metabolism Speed Up Aging?

January 14, 2020 Andrea P

Aging is a universal human reality. Concern regarding aging—and a collective aversion to it—has even generated entire industry segments dedicated to anti-aging products, from expensive supplements through pricey lotions. People are afraid of the issues that can come up with advanced age: cancer, cognitive decline, wrinkles and age spots, mobility issues, sexual dysfunction, and any number of other impediments to daily life and ongoing vigor. Scientists want to understand the way aging is reflected in cells, for two key reasons. [more…]

Lazy Versus Active Lifestyle Preferences May Have Epigenetic Roots

January 7, 2020 Andrea P

Some people are content with lying on the couch and watching TV, while others need to be active and exercise every day. Could it be due to the difference in genetics, environment, nurture vs. nature, or something else? In a recent study published in Nature Communications, researchers from the Baylor College of Medicine wanted to examine the relationship between nurture and exercise; specifically the mechanisms responsible for making some people enjoy exercising more than others. The study highlights how epigenetics suggests that [more…]

Alcohol Byproducts Can Epigenetically Trigger Cravings

December 26, 2019 Andrea P

As the holiday season brings about more parties, people are more likely to drink beyond healthy limits. In this social minefield of alcoholic beverages being served liberally, addicts may find themselves more inclined to fall back into their habit, already facing an average rate of relapse somewhere between 40 and 60%. We already know that alcohol can have several different effects on our epigenetics, all of which are negative. We’ve seen that binge drinking as a teenager can severely hinder [more…]

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