How Epigenetics is Improving Our Understanding of Domestication in Animals

July 3, 2018 Natalie Crowley

Tens of thousands of years ago, humans formed a unique bond with one particular animal, the wolf. And over time with years of interaction and intervention, these wolves transformed. They became docile and less fearful. They changed in appearance, becoming smaller with floppier ears and curled tails. They even learned how to read human facial expressions and take commands. In effect, they were no longer wolves, but an entirely new species — the dog. Dogs, like many other domestic animals, [more…]

Epigenetic Study Identifies a Novel Biomarker for an Elusive Bladder Disease

May 8, 2018 Natalie Crowley

Running to the restroom is normal when you’ve got a full bladder ready to burst. But constantly feeling the urge to go multiple times a day can be uncomfortable and debilitating, especially if it’s accompanied by severe pelvic pain. For those suffering from interstitial cystitis (also called painful bladder syndrome), this is an unfortunate reality – one that is often misdiagnosed and challenging to treat. In a recent study published in Scientific Reports, researchers from the US and Korea may [more…]

Exercise May Offset Drinking’s Harmful Epigenetic Effect on the Brain

April 17, 2018 Natalie Crowley

Drinking alcohol on a regular basis, even in moderation, can cause damage to the brain. Physical activity, however, has been reported to protect cognitive function. So, could exercise counteract drinking’s harmful effects on the brain? In a recent study conducted at the University of Louisville School of Medicine in Louisville, KY, a group of researchers decided to tackle this question by taking an epigenetic look at how alcohol and exercise affect the brain. Specifically, they looked at alcohol-induced epigenetic and [more…]

Epigenetic Bee Study Explains Why Cocaine is So Addictive

March 27, 2018 Natalie Crowley

Bees, like humans, have been known to act…well, buzzed when given cocaine. And just like us, they can also become addicted to it…even suffer from withdrawal symptoms when the drug is taken away. It’s this similarity in altered behavior to us that makes them a great model system to study when investigating the effects of cocaine use. As it just so happens, researchers from Norway and Australia recently conducted a study using honey bees to investigate cocaine dependency. Not the [more…]

Skipping Sleep Lowers the Body’s Protective Antioxidant Levels and Induces Epigenetic Changes

December 5, 2017 Natalie Crowley

Sleep is something that nearly all species need to survive. On a daily basis, humans need about 8 hours, dogs and cats recharge with around 12 hours, and the koala takes nearly the entire day — napping a whopping 22 hours. But unlike dogs, koalas, or most other animals, we humans don’t always get enough of our required Zzz’s. Our lives are either too busy or filled with too many distractions that keep us up at night. Sometimes sleep is [more…]

Epigenetic Research for Space Exploration

September 19, 2017 Natalie Crowley

Sixty years ago this October, a tiny little beach ball-sized satellite named Sputnik would usher in the beginning of the space age. Since that time, several space exploration achievements have transpired and many have included humans traveling in space. But humans weren’t exactly meant to live in outer space. Our bodies are uniquely adapted to the Earth’s gravity and environment. So if we want to travel longer distances into space, Mars for example, then we need to know how the [more…]

Blocking a Specific Epigenetic Enzyme Could Prevent Diabetic-Related Heart Failure

August 29, 2017 Natalie Crowley

Heart disease has been singled out as the leading cause of death among people with diabetes. It’s estimated that 68 percent of diabetics age 65 or older will die from some form of cardiovascular disease. Coronary atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, is the most prevalent of these diseases, but there is another very common heart condition specific to diabetes that has been getting more attention in recent years. It’s called diabetic cardiomyopathy (DCM) and it’s independent of coronary artery [more…]

Using Epigenetics to Combat a Terrible Neglected Tropical Disease

August 8, 2017 Natalie Crowley

A small freshwater parasite burrows into the bare skin of an unsuspecting swimmer and enters their bloodstream. Once inside the blood, it grows into an adult worm, quietly feasting on its victim’s nutrients and breeding for some time, until one day its destruction becomes serious and life-threatening. While this could be the storyline of a bad horror film, it’s tragically the real tale of schistosomiasis – a deadly neglected tropical disease that kills more than 200,000 people each year in [more…]

Brown Rice Could Curb Cravings for High Fat Foods by Epigenetically Affecting the Brain

June 27, 2017 Natalie Crowley

High fat foods tend to be the most palatable and preferred choice of food in both humans and animals…and the most overeaten. We are more likely to eat an entire bag of chips or a pint of ice cream and still want more than overindulge on broccoli. Even though we need fat in our diets, most people eat far too much of it. The reason why is because fat makes food taste delicious. It enhances the flavor, aroma, and texture [more…]

Epigenetics to the Rescue on Climate Change

April 4, 2017 Natalie Crowley

The impact of climate change may be one of the greatest threats facing all life on Earth today. Around the world, rising temperatures and extreme weather patterns are already affecting the habitats of many plants and animals. Undoubtedly, their fate will depend on their ability to either migrate away from or adapt to the new environment, and eventually evolve as a species. But, can life on our planet adapt in time? Most researchers believe that the rate in which our [more…]

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