Neurotransmitter Serotonin is Welcomed as a Potentially New Epigenetic Mark

April 23, 2019 James Cain

The neurotransmitter serotonin (also known as 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT)) has an absolute vast array of functions across the human body. Most commonly known to regulate mood, it is also key for the development of neurones. In fact, serotonin is linked to various mental disorders, including depression, which globally affects more than 300 million people. It has long been assumed that serotonin has an indirect role in relation to epigenetic regulation1. The binding of serotonin to its receptor(s) causes a downstream cascade [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…]

Teen Drinking Could Epigenetically Hinder Brain Development

April 9, 2019 Tim Barry

Alcohol is likely the most used and abused substance in the world. It’s fine to have a few cocktails or beers per week, but only for those that are of the legal drinking age. Underage drinking is a consistent issue faced in the United States today. According to the CDC, kids ages 12-20 consume about 11% of all alcohol in the US, and this can be problematic as it is often done in a bingeing manner, rather than a causal [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…]

High Fat Diet in Fruit Flies Links Epigenetics to Inherited Heart Disease

March 5, 2019 Tim Barry

In the United States, obesity has become an epidemic that has been sweeping the nation for quite some time. Poor dietary habits have become far too customary among the American people, so it is no surprise that obesity rates are extremely high. Obesity presents a person with numerous adverse health effects that can shorten life expectancy like hypertension, diabetes, and perhaps most importantly, heart disease. Heart disease is currently the leading cause of death in both men and women in [more…]

Intended Epigenetic Drug Has Opposite Effect for Lung Cancer

February 26, 2019 WhatIsEpigenetics

Cancer is a complex disease influenced by numerous factors including genetic make-up, lifestyle, and the environment. Over the years, the growing field of epigenetics has greatly contributed to our understanding of cancer and tumor progression. It has also led to the development of novel drug therapies. Yet, despite the fact that epigenetic regulators have become attractive anticancer targets, many scientists believe that extra caution should be taken when assessing their overall effects. In a new study, one potential epigenetic therapy [more…]

Epigenetic Test Beats Pap & HPV for Detecting Cervical Cancer

February 5, 2019 Natalie Crowley

Cervical cancer used to be the number one cause of death in women about a hundred years ago. But thanks to advancements in medical science, this disease is almost preventable today. However, cervical cancer (CC) still claims the lives of over 4,000 women each year in the US. While Pap and human papillomavirus (HPV) testing have significantly contributed to the lower mortality rates, there are still certain types of CC that are not easily detected. Now, a new technique has [more…]

Heat Stress Upsets the Epigenome of Dairy Cattle Offspring

January 29, 2019 Amanda Conroy

If you are familiar with cattle, you may be aware of the dangers heat poses to these sensitive creatures. They have a lower tolerance for heat than humans do, and if their bodies become too warm, they can experience changes that are neither beneficial for farmers and consumers, nor for the animals themselves. Temperature, precipitation, humidity, wind, and amount of direct sunlight are all main factors in determining an animal’s body temperature. If these variables are not monitored properly, cattle [more…]

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