How Shutting Down DNA Methylation Affects the “Dark Matter” in Our Genome

July 30, 2019 Natalie Crowley

Along the vast stretches of molecules that make up our DNA, only a small portion (about 3%) consists of genes, the essential building blocks or our bodies. The rest has been considered dark matter, as it appears to serve little to no biological purpose. Out of this area, the most substantial bulk is comprised of mobile genetic elements that scientists call transposons or transposable elements (TEs). Throughout evolution, these TEs have colonized our genome by basically copying and pasting themselves [more…]

Vinegar May Epigenetically Prevent Kidney Stone Development

July 16, 2019 Natalie Crowley

If you have ever suffered the excruciating pain of kidney stones, you definitely don’t want that experience again. Unfortunately, reoccurrence is high for this condition. Therefore, treatment options that can prevent stones from returning are in great demand. One simple home remedy that many people swear by is vinegar. While most findings supporting its use are anecdotal, those who regularly consume vinegar tend to have a reduced risk for developing kidney stones. Exactly how it works within the body, however, [more…]

Popular Herbicide May Epigenetically Promote Health Problems In Descendants

July 2, 2019 Natalie Crowley

For decades, farmers and homeowners alike have been eradicating unwanted weeds and vegetation with Roundup. While it’s been an effective herbicide and widely used in the US, its main ingredient has been causing much debate in recent years with claims linking its use to cancer and other conditions. Now, scientists are finding that exposure to this weed killer could also be responsible for damaging the health of future generations via inherited epigenetic defects. Glyphosate, or N-(phosphonomethyl) glycine was first discovered [more…]

Scientists Design a Genomic Atlas for Studying Epigenetic Variation in Disease

June 25, 2019 Natalie Crowley

Thirty years ago, many scientists believed that mapping the human genome would be the key to ending all diseases. We now know that genetics is more complicated than we first anticipated. This understanding has steered many researchers to look beyond the genome to study what lies “on top” of the DNA, better known as epigenetics. However, this field is very new and mostly uncharted, and despite overwhelming interest, there is still much to learn. The primary challenge at present is [more…]

Stem Cells Obtained From Menstrual Blood May Epigenetically Inhibit Liver Cancer

June 18, 2019 Natalie Crowley

Menstruation is a normal and natural part of human life. In most cases, it signifies a healthy reproductive system and a women’s ability to bear children.  For far too long, however, it has been viewed in a negative light and not always appreciated for its real purpose, which is preparing the female body for pregnancy. Hopefully, science will finally change the overall perspective on menstruation as newer reports are confirming that menstrual blood and tissue are valuable resources of mesenchymal [more…]

Epigenetic Age Linked to Allergic Conditions in Children

May 14, 2019 Natalie Crowley

The number of children diagnosed with asthma and allergies has risen tremendously in the last few decades, partly because of higher awareness. But the jury is still out on determining what exactly is driving this increase. Rapid changes in the environment and lifestyles factors may be to blame, yet much remains to be learned about the etiology of both these ailments. To further our understanding, scientists have been investigating the role of epigenetics to determine which biological mechanisms play a role [more…]

Epigenetics Involved in Improving COPD Treatment

April 16, 2019 Natalie Crowley

Breathing can be difficult for millions of people around the world who have COPD. While there are available treatments that can reduce the symptoms of this condition, one major barrier to their effectiveness is corticosteroid resistance. The mechanisms that contribute to this type of resistance are unknown, but recent evidence suggests that certain epigenetic factors may play a role. COPD (or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is a term used to describe progressive lung diseases including chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Long-term [more…]

Seed Dormancy Stems from the Mother Plant Via Epigenetics

April 2, 2019 Natalie Crowley

The seed stage is an integral part of a plant’s life cycle and necessary for species’ survival. As the dispersal unit of the organism, the seed must be able to sustain extended periods of unfavorable conditions if necessary. It does this by remaining dormant, thereby delaying germination until the environment is ideal. Biologists at the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland previously revealed that seed dormancy is inherited from the mother plant. Now, this same team has uncovered how this maternal [more…]

Epigenetics Explains Increased Drug Resistance in Malaria Parasite

March 18, 2019 Natalie Crowley

Malaria is a serious, sometimes fatal disease that is caused by a single-cell parasite and transferred to humans by the bite of a mosquito. Each year, millions of cases of the illness are reported, predominantly in young children and pregnant women from the sub-Saharan African region. Although deadly, malaria is preventable and treatable if tackled early enough. However, one hindering issue persists – drug resistance. In recent years, it has become a significant hurdle in the global effort to eradicate [more…]

Mouse Study Verifies Gene’s Role in Autism Via Epigenetics

March 12, 2019 Natalie Crowley

More families are living with autism today than ever before. It’s a common diagnosis with a prevalence of 1 in 59 children in the US. Despite all the efforts to understand this condition, there is still no known cause. The consensus among researchers is that autism is predominantly genetic with a few environmental factors involved. However, determining a heritable link here is complex since any number of genotypic variations could underlie autism. To better pinpoint genes that may contribute to [more…]

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