Articles that explore the connection between epigenetics and diseases and disorders, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, autoimmune disease, and more.

Binge Drinking Can Lead to Harmful Epigenetic Changes

December 30, 2014 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Recent research at the University of Missouri School of Medicine sheds some light on the epigenetic changes to proteins that occur as a result of . Their results could help progress treatments for liver diseases linked to alcohol consumption. The lead author of the study and Margaret Proctor Mulligan Professor at the MU School of Medicine, Shivendra Shukla, PhD, says that “we know that chronic alcohol use is damaging to the liver, but binge drinking amplifies that damage.” Chronic liver [more…]

The Epigenetics of Schizophrenia

December 8, 2014 Adam Alonzi

The nascent field of epigenetics has been helpful in elucidating upon other polygenic traits and diseases. Thus it only seems logical to apply it to the study of , a chronic and debilitating illness with a sundry of risk factors. In his widely cited 2013 article, Dr. Thomas Insel defines schizophrenia as “a collection of signs and symptoms of unknown aetiology, predominantly defined by observed signs of psychosis.” The NIMH estimates it affects 1 out of 100 people. Yet in [more…]

The Consequences of a Poor Diet Could Epigenetically Persist Despite Improving Eating Habits

November 11, 2014 Bailey Kirkpatrick

A majority of people know that improving your diet will lead to an improvement in your health. But not everyone knows that the consequences of eating poorly can actually persist even after you’ve changed your dietary habits for the better. New research on mice suggests that even following the treatment of atherosclerosis – the build-up of plaque in your arteries – by lowering blood cholesterol and improving diet, the detrimental effects of poor eating continues to affect the functioning of [more…]

Researchers Discover ‘Goldilocks Effect’ of Protein Bre1 Influences Epigenetic Regulation

November 4, 2014 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Every cell in the human body contains every human gene. However, not all genes are expressed, or turned “on”, in each cell. Depending on the type of cell, certain genes will need to be expressed and others not. For example, a heart cell possesses genes necessary for appropriate kidney function, but in a healthy heart cell these genes won’t be expressed. Similarly, a kidney cell has genes for proper heart function, but only the genes relevant to kidney functioning should [more…]

Epigenetic Regulation and Drug Therapy Could Offer New Treatment for Kidney Stones

September 16, 2014 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Although kidney stones are common and often cause excruciating pain, there are few options for treatment and a surprising lack of drugs to medicate the condition. In a previous blog post we discussed how a drug that was already being used to treat multiple sclerosis showed promising results for removing painful memories of those who experienced trauma. Now, a new mouse study at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis indicates that a class of drugs which have [more…]

Epigenetic Mechanism Proposes Potential Markers for Depression and Anxiety

September 9, 2014 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Stress affects everyone differently – some people perform well and can adapt under stress but for others it can be severely debilitating. A previous blog article highlighted stress-related research that uncovered a connection between the common epigenetic mechanism DNA methylation and serotonin gene expression. Now, new research from Rockefeller University further expands our understanding of stress and how epigenetic molecular mechanisms may contribute to stress-related disorders. By using mice with similar genetic makeup and investigating the epigenetic mechanism known as [more…]

Expanding Knowledge of DNA Methylation and Alzheimer’s Disease

September 2, 2014 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Researchers from Rush University Medical Center and Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) conducted a study recently demonstrating how an epigenetic alteration to DNA of the brain is connected to Alzheimer’s disease. The team looked at DNA methylation, which is an epigenetic mechanism that occurs when a methyl group is added to the cytosine or adenine of DNA. This epigenetic mechanism, as well as others such as DNA demethylation and histone acetylation, have the ability to turn on or off genes. [more…]

Epigenetic Signature Found in Blood Predicts Chances of Getting Breast Cancer

July 2, 2014 Bailey Kirkpatrick

If a woman could get a blood test telling her whether or not she’s likely to develop breast cancer, preventative measures could be taken, doctors could monitor her health, and she could explore potential options even before the cancer has started. A blood test like this could be possible as a result of new research by University College London (UCL) scientists, led by Professor Martin Widschwendter, head of the UCL Department of Women’s Cancer. The research team, whose study was [more…]

Epigenetic Change Tied to Hardening of the Arteries

June 11, 2014 Bailey Kirkpatrick

New research suggests that when patterns of blood flow are disturbed, epigenetic changes occur to the genes in the cells lining blood vessels, contributing to hardening of the arteries, otherwise known as atherosclerosis. Characterized by the accumulation of inflammatory cells and fats in arteries, this disease often precedes strokes and heart attacks. Blood flow and the natural curves of the arteries are known to dictate where atherosclerotic plaques develop. Along with his colleagues, Hanjoong Jo, a biomedical engineer and professor [more…]

Do We Already Have A Drug That Could Epigenetically Erase Traumatic Memories?

June 4, 2014 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Scientists at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine discovered that the drug fingolimod, which is used to treat multiple sclerosis (MS), could potentially benefit individuals who wish to get rid of painful and traumatic memories. While MS is still not entirely understood, the disease involves a process that is immune-mediated in which the immune system attacks healthy parts of the body, namely the central nervous system – the spinal cord, brain, and optic nerves. Fingolimod, or FTY720, is a [more…]

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