Common Flame Retardant Alters the Epigenome of Aquatic Organisms

April 16, 2024 Natalie Crowley

Flame retardants are ubiquitous chemicals added to numerous consumer products to prevent the spread of fire. While they are essential in enhancing fire safety, their widespread use has raised concerns about their environmental and health impacts. One such flame retardant, triphenyl phosphate (TPhP), has gained popularity as an alternative to previously restricted compounds. However, recent studies suggest that TPhP may pose risks to both aquatic ecosystems and human health through its potential to disrupt endocrine systems and alter gene expression. [more…]

Epigenetic Changes in Immune Cells Linked to Alzheimer’s Disease

April 2, 2024 Natalie Crowley

Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative brain disorder that impacts millions globally. While the exact cause of the disease is still unknown, a recent study by Northwestern University (NU) has shed light on the potential role of epigenetic modifications in the immune system of Alzheimer’s patients. The study found that Alzheimer’s patients experience epigenetic changes in their blood’s immune system, which could be influenced by environmental factors, past infections, and lifestyle behaviors. These findings could pave the way for the development [more…]

New Tool Helps Researchers Link Epigenetic Modifications to Gene Expression

March 19, 2024 Natalie Crowley

In the quest to understand the intricate interplay between genetics and the environment in disease development, scientists have devoted extensive efforts to unraveling the structure and sequence of genetic material. A key focus of this research lies in exploring epigenetic marks, the chemical modifications made on DNA or its packaging proteins (histones) that affect gene expression without changing the DNA sequence. Epigenetic modifications serve as crucial regulators of gene activity, orchestrating when and how genes are turned on or off [more…]

DNA Methylation’s Role in Preventing Cleft Lip and Palate

March 5, 2024 Natalie Crowley

Cleft lip and palate stand out as the most prevalent craniofacial birth anomalies worldwide, affecting approximately 1 in 700 newborns. Despite extensive research spanning decades, the precise etiology of most cases remains elusive, as does effective preventive measures. Understanding the causes of this abnormality has mainly focused on genetic factors, revealing numerous risk loci along the DNA, although direct causative variants are rare. Therefore, it is thought that this defect arises from a mix of genetic and environmental factors. Yet, [more…]

Scientists Use Machine Learning to Develop an Epigenetic Clock for Predicting Biological Age Better

February 20, 2024 Natalie Crowley

In the quest to unravel the mysteries of aging, scientists have long turned to our genetic code for answers. While machine learning models have offered insights into predicting biological age, understanding the causal factors behind aging has yet to be discovered. However, a groundbreaking study has now shed light on the hidden workings of aging by delving deep into the intricate realm of epigenetics. Scientists at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, part of Mass General Brigham, have developed an innovative “epigenetic [more…]

Positive Parenting May Reverse Epigenetic Age in Children Affected by Adversity

January 23, 2024 Natalie Crowley

Growing up amid adversity, encompassing elements like poverty, child maltreatment, and community violence, not only poses a significant risk for psychopathology and lifelong health challenges but also has been shown to accelerate the biological or epigenetic aging process in children. However, a new study featuring research conducted in the lab of Professor Justin Parent, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Rhode Island, has introduced a promising prospect. Positive parenting interventions might hold the key to slowing down [more…]

Epigenetic Study Unveils Vital Role of Housekeeping Genetic Elements and Potential for Cancer Therapy

January 9, 2024 Natalie Crowley

Advancements in technology have opened doors for scientists to delve deep into the complex world of genetic control elements, unveiling the intricate mechanisms governing gene activation within our genetic code. Contrary to the simplistic perception of cis-regulatory elements (CREs) as mere genetic on/off switches, emerging evidence underscores their capacity for nuanced behaviors. They’re not just toggles for gene enhancement; they orchestrate complex functions pivotal to sustaining cellular health. New research originating from Japan has uncovered about 11,000 significant genetic switches, [more…]

Epigenetic Changes Dictate Cancer’s Course

November 29, 2023 Natalie Crowley

Understanding the intricate interplay between genetics and cancer progression has long captivated the scientific community. While genetic mutations have been the main focal point in oncology, recent strides have illuminated the profound influence of epigenetic modifications in the development of cancer. In a recent study published in the journal Nature, Dr. Eduard Porta from the Josep Carreras Leukaemia Research Institute and his team have shed light on the pivotal role that epigenetics plays in steering cells on their journey from [more…]

Unveiling the Epigenetic Impact of Formaldehyde: A Hazardous Environmental Pollutant

November 14, 2023 Natalie Crowley

A global team of researchers has unveiled a groundbreaking revelation regarding formaldehyde, a pervasive environmental pollutant and a common metabolite in the human body. Contrary to its previous characterization solely as a DNA mutagen, formaldehyde has been found to disrupt the epigenetic programming of cells, establishing a deeper link with cancer. Dr. Lucas Pontel, group leader at the Josep Carreras Leukaemia Research Institute, and Dr. Manel Esteller, group leader and director of the institution, collaborated on the published paper in [more…]

AI Detects Disease Clues from DNA Methylation Data

November 1, 2023 Natalie Crowley

Artificial intelligence (AI) holds immense potential to transform healthcare by unraveling intricate patterns within complex biological data, laying the foundation for personalized medical solutions. Researchers at Link√∂ping University in Sweden have pioneered an AI-driven method to analyze epigenetic data, with wide-ranging applications in medicine and biology. Their advanced models not only accurately estimate individuals’ chronological age but also discern their smoking history. In the realm of genetics, numerous factors come into play, dictating which genes are activated or deactivated at [more…]

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