Mitochondrial DNA Methylation Gives Clues to Insulin Response in Pre-Diabetics

September 1, 2015 Bailey Kirkpatrick

What if those who are resistant to insulin but don’t have diabetes could help prevent themselves and others from developing the disease? Researchers from Virginia Tech have discovered a biomarker in those who are pre-diabetic that could prevent them and potentially others from getting type 2 diabetes. The researchers uncovered that pre-diabetics, or people who are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes, who do not respond to insulin had altered DNA in their mitochondria and had an increased [more…]

DNA Methylation, Melting DNA, and Twins: Advancing Forensic Investigations

June 23, 2015 Bailey Kirkpatrick

DNA profiling, also known as genetic fingerprinting has been crucial to the forensic investigation of crime scenes since the 1980s. Although important to the success of many cases, this technique comes with some limitations, particularly when investigators are trying to match DNA evidence to a twin. Using this method, it is difficult to conclusively determine which twin may be innocent and which may be guilty because of their identical DNA sequence. Scientists at the University of Huddersfield, however, conducted research [more…]

DNA Methylation Gives Epigenetic Hope to Cocaine Addiction Treatment

June 2, 2015 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Not only is cocaine a highly addictive drug, but it also comes with an incredibly high chance of relapse even after someone has abstained and experienced symptoms of withdrawal. A new study is illuminating the epigenetic changes made to DNA during the withdrawal stage for those trying to rid themselves of the drug and offers new hope for more effective epigenetic-based treatments for drug addiction. According to researchers from McGill University and Bar Ilan University, the genes found in your [more…]

DNA Methylation and Glucocorticoid Resistance Offers Clues to Improve Cancer Drugs

May 12, 2015 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Scientists from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital conducted a study that illuminates a mechanism by which leukemia cells resist steroids, a key factor detrimental to the success of chemotherapy. This discovery could help create more effective cancer drugs and improve the treatment of many autoimmune related diseases. The researchers looked at a certain type of steroid hormones involved in the immune system, known as glucocorticoids. These hormones are crucial components to the chemotherapy drug cocktail that has helped increase long-term [more…]

How Eating Zinc Could Affect DNA Methylation and the Immune System

April 28, 2015 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Zinc is a mineral that’s vital to our health and is involved in several aspects of cellular metabolism. According to the National Institutes of Health, zinc plays a role in a wide range of important processes like healing wounds, synthesizing proteins and DNA, and the division of cells. It’s even required to be able to taste and smell properly. Published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, recent evidence conducted at the Oregon State University also suggests that zinc affects the [more…]

DNA Methylation Solves Crimes

April 21, 2015 Fides Lay

In an episode of the popular procedural drama Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, entitled ‘Perverted’, the show’s protagonist, Detective Olivia Benson, was accused of murder after her DNA was found to match DNA isolated from blood recovered from the murder weapon. Without alibi, Detective Benson was arrested, her reputation in jeopardy. As her colleagues worked to clear her name, it was medical examiner Dr. Melinda Warner who came up with the answer. Normal DNA, she explained, is about 80% [more…]

DNA Methylation Influences Continuous Variation in Ant Worker Size

March 31, 2015 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Scientists have thought that differences in traits that exist along a continuum like skin color, height, intelligence, ability to gain weight, and risk for developing diseases were due to genetic and environmental factors. The connection between these two factors and how they interact together, however, has long been uncertain. Researchers from McGill University have conducted an epigenetic study on carpenter ants that reinforces the importance of a key epigenetic mechanism, known as DNA methylation, and supports the hypothesis that environmental [more…]

DNA Methylation Could Explain How People Respond to Fear and Anger

February 17, 2015 Bailey Kirkpatrick

A region of the brain known as the amygdala is normally activated when people perceive fear and anger in others. This region, which is part of the limbic system, conveys the message to other regions of the brain to prepare oneself for what may be a threatening situation. We’ve seen previous research that offers an epigenetic connection between DNA methylation of the serotonin transporter gene (SLC6A4) and how an individual responds to stress. In the present study, peoples’ brains respond [more…]

Prenatal Maternal Stress Triggers Distinct DNA Methylation Signatures in Ice Storm Babies

November 18, 2014 Bailey Kirkpatrick

The Quebec Ice Storm of 1998 was a devastating time that plunged more than 3 million Quebecers into frigid darkness without electricity for as long as 45 days. Now, more than 15 years later, researchers from McGill University and the Douglas Mental Health University are finding out that the length of time a pregnant woman went without electricity during this time predicts her child’s epigenetic profile. Scientists have discovered a unique DNA ‘signature’ of children who were in the womb [more…]

Advancements in DNA Methylation Analysis Technologies

October 21, 2014 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Recent developments in DNA methylation analysis technologies have made it crucial for researchers to understand which tool is optimal for their epigenetic research. These new methods pose exciting opportunities never before imagined, allowing for epigenetic variation to be connected to phenotypic consequences on a much grander scale and at single-base resolution. In a recent issue of an epigenetics newsletter, The Decoder, scientists at Epigentek discuss the latest progress made in profiling genome-wide and region-specific DNA methylation and offer suggestions on [more…]

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