Bailey Kirkpatrick
About Bailey Kirkpatrick

Bailey Kirkpatrick is a science writer with a background in epigenetics and psychology and a passion for conveying scientific concepts to the wider community. She enjoys speculating about the implications of epigenetics and how it might impact our perception of wellbeing and the development of novel preventative strategies. When she’s not combing through research articles, she also enjoys discovering new foods, taking nighttime strolls, and discussing current events over a barrel-aged sour beer or cold-brewed coffee.

Cuddling Can Leave Positive Epigenetic Traces on Your Baby’s DNA

December 12, 2017 Bailey Kirkpatrick

You might be familiar with the popular epigenetic study that suggests when mother rats lick their pups, they leave epigenetic marks on their babies’ DNA. This, in turn, helps them grow up to be calm adults. On the other hand, pups who receive very little licking, grooming, or nursing from their moms tend to grow up more anxious. It wasn’t their genes that dictated their stressed-out behavior, but their epigenome, which was shaped by the nurturing behavior of their mother [more…]

The Epigenetic Health Benefits of Blueberries

November 7, 2017 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Although blueberries are tiny, they’re more powerful than you might think. Touted for their high nutrient content – including fiber, vitamin C and K, and manganese – these little blue fruits may be able to adjust chemical marks on DNA and influence our health. Blueberries are incredibly high in antioxidants and it’s thought that this “superfood” can epigenetically reduce DNA damage, thereby protecting humans against aging and cancer. Examples of epigenetics in food include the ability of green tea to [more…]

Epigenetic Drugs That Fight Cancer Also Show Promise as Antivirals

October 31, 2017 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Epigenetic drugs designed to fight cancer might actually be used against many viruses as well. A recent study published in the American Society for Microbiology shows that some pharmaceuticals that act epigenetically have the power to be used as broad spectrum antivirals. Specifically, the researchers looked at histone methyltransferases EZH2/1 inhibitors which can help fight against cancer. Numerous DNA viruses, such as herpes simplex virus (HSV), are involved in epigenetic regulation which determines productive infection, persistence, and latency. Modulation to [more…]

Could Drinking Alcohol Epigenetically Hamper Your Ability to Process Cholesterol?

October 17, 2017 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Scientists from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Johns Hopkins Medicine worked together to analyze human and mouse epigenomes and discovered that drinking alcohol could lead to epigenetic changes that influence a particular gene’s ability to regulate cholesterol. The results suggest an underlying epigenetic mechanism known as DNA methylation could explain why someone’s body processes cholesterol differently depending on their drinking habits. It also offers unique insight into the effects of cholesterol-lowering drugs which are commonly used to reduce [more…]

Father’s Exposure to Phthalates Impact Epigenetic Marks on Sperm DNA

October 10, 2017 Bailey Kirkpatrick

New epigenetic research conducted by scientists at the University of Massachusetts suggests that a father’s environment can affect the health of his baby via epigenetic marks in his sperm. Specifically, male exposure to phthalates, which are endocrine disruptors found in plastics, personal care products like shaving cream, and in the environment that surrounds us, were found to have an impact on a couples’ success when having children. Led by Richard Pilsner, an environmental health scientist, this ongoing study supported by [more…]

Exploring the Possibility of Extending Lifespan Using Epigenetic Drift

October 3, 2017 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Nearly a century ago, researchers discovered that cutting calorie intake was actually able to extend lifespan in various animal species. Although numerous studies have been conducted since to find out exactly why reducing calories can extend lifespan, scientists have been unable to pinpoint the answer. Now, a group of investigators at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University (LKSOM) have uncovered an explanation to the longevity conundrum, something they call “age-related methylation drift.” The senior investigator, Jean-Pierre Issa, [more…]

Down a Path of Epigenetic Destruction: Smoking Cigarettes Adjusts Critical Marks on DNA

September 26, 2017 Bailey Kirkpatrick

You can now add “harmful changes to your DNA” to the long list of reasons to quit smoking cigarettes, along with lung cancer, coronary heart disease, increased risk of death, stroke, chronic lung disease, decreased immune function, infertility, and the fact that smoking harms nearly every organ in the body. Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center recently contributed to the growing evidence that demonstrates that smoking cigarettes – which contain a deadly cocktail of over 7,000 chemicals – [more…]

Vitamin D Adjusts Epigenetic Marks That Could Hinder A Baby’s Health

September 12, 2017 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Even though it’s common for expectant mothers to have low vitamin D levels, it’s essential to the health and proper development of the baby. A low amount of vitamin D is associated with poor fetal growth, childhood obesity, bone density, and bone mineral content. Interestingly, key functions of the placenta – like transporting nutrients to the growing baby – are controlled by the expression of genes, which is mediated by vitamin D. Researchers have now discovered that this vitamin might [more…]

Pregnant Moms’ Exposure to Pollution May Epigenetically Increase Child’s Asthma Susceptibility

August 22, 2017 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Exposure to environmental pollution, such as diesel exhaust or concentrated urban air particles, during pregnancy could increase a child’s risk of developing asthma via epigenetic mechanisms. Recent research in the Journal of Physiology – Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology suggests that this allergic susceptibility might even be epigenetically passed down for several generations. Asthma forms as a result of the complex interaction between someone’s genes, epigenetic marks, and the environment. Epigenetics, the study of how chemical tags impact the expression [more…]

‘Magical’ Mushroom Could Fight off Cancer with Epigenetics

August 16, 2017 Bailey Kirkpatrick

A certain type of mushroom might epigenetically prevent tumor growth, according to a study published in the Journal of Cancer Research and Treatment. A medicinal mushroom, Phellinus linteus (PL), could come with “magical” anticancer properties. Researchers from New York Medical College found that histone deacetylase (HDAC) inactivation and histone acetylation led to the death of bladder cancer cells. Chemotherapy and immunotherapy often come with severe side effects, and for those suffering from bladder cancer, the use of these therapies is [more…]

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