Cataloging DNA Methylation & Gene Expression in Children

May 10, 2022 Natalie Crowley

Over the last few decades, the study of epigenetics has broadened our understanding of how the environment affects human development and disease. But, there’s still a lot we don’t know about this relationship. There have been several epigenome-wide association studies (EWAS) that have helped scientists identify altered methylation patterns. However, the challenge lies in interpreting the results obtained from these studies. Now, a new study from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) hopes to assist researchers in their biological [more…]

Epigenetic Researchers Turn Back Time on Aging Skin Cells

April 26, 2022 Natalie Crowley

You’ve heard the old saying that age is just a number. But what if you could lower that number by about 30 years? Epigenetic researchers from the Babraham Institute in the UK say it’s possible. What’s more, they have proven it experimentally, using a new method based on Shinya Yamanaka’s Nobel Prize-winning technique to create stem cells. The study, recently published in eLife, demonstrates how older skin cells can be restored and rejuvenated by erasing some of the genetic marks that make them [more…]

Epigenetic Study Identifies Potential Drug Targets for a Rare Type of Bone Marrow Cancer

April 12, 2022 Natalie Crowley

There are many treatment options for cancer today, yet it continues to be a major health problem, killing hundreds of thousands of people in the US each year. While conventional therapies like chemo and radiation have successfully extended survival rates, they don’t necessarily work for all patients, especially those with late-stage or rare cancers. As a result, more advanced treatments and diagnostic methods are being sought after to stem the cancer death toll. One research area that shows great promise [more…]

Epigenetic Marks Indicate Early Type 1 Diabetes Risk

March 29, 2022 Natalie Crowley

We hear a lot about the rise in type 2 diabetes worldwide, which primarily affects people in their 40s and 50s. But the same is also true for the less common type 1 diabetes (T1D). Global rates for this autoimmune disease have been increasing in recent years, and the trend is very troubling. T1D usually occurs in younger people and has a greater potential for causing disabilities and early death. No one knows exactly why this disease has risen significantly [more…]

3D-Imaging for Epigenetic Changes in the Brain 

March 15, 2022 Natalie Crowley

For centuries, scientists and philosophers have been fascinated with learning about the brain. However, it hasn’t been until the last few decades that we’ve really been able to examine this complex organ in action. One advanced technology that has revolutionized our understanding of the human brain is magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). While this method has been extremely useful for measuring neural activity, it hasn’t been used to assess gene regulation – that is, until now. The University of Illinois (U [more…]

How Epigenetics Can Restrict Parent-Specific Gene Information

March 1, 2022 Natalie Crowley

Children are a blend of both their parent’s genes, but not necessarily in an equal way. Some genes inherited from either the father or mother are epigenetically marked with information that causes them to be inactive. This phenomenon is known as genomic imprinting and, although normal, could lead to disease if combined with mutations. For the most part, we acquire two working copies of each gene – one from our dad and one from our mom. Although in genomic imprinting, [more…]

The Rwanda Genocide Left Lasting Marks on the DNA of Traumatized Women and Their Children

February 1, 2022 Natalie Crowley

In 1994, one of the most horrific civil wars took place in the rural country of Rwanda. In a period of about 100 days, nearly one million people died. Most of the dead were Tutsi – a minority group that was targeted for extermination by the government. In the aftermath of the genocide, many survivors were left with mental health problems such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression. Although decades have passed, the Rwandan people continue to cope with [more…]

Uncovering the DNA Methylation Profile of Brain Immune Cells

January 18, 2022 Natalie Crowley

We all know by now, especially in the days of COVID-19, how crucial it is to have a properly working immune system. If our bodies can produce the right antibodies and white blood cells to protect us from invading pathogens, we can survive an illness. Sometimes, the body’s immune system is out of whack, doing more damage than good, which is why understanding how immune cells work is essential for developing ways to overcome diseases. Interestingly, the brain and central [more…]

How Epigenetics Helps the Hydra Grow a New Head

January 4, 2022 Natalie Crowley

If you’re familiar with Greek mythology, you’ve probably heard of the Hydra – a gigantic multi-headed serpent that regenerates two heads for each one it loses. It is after this creature that a small freshwater invertebrate is duly named. The Hydra vulgaris, also known simply as Hydra, is a unique organism that exists in a continuous state of renewal. Cut off its head, and it will grow a new one. How it does this, however, has fascinated scientists for centuries [more…]

Twin Study Reveals Epigenetic Factors for Type 2 Diabetes

December 21, 2021 Natalie Crowley

Epigenetic scientists have been keen on studying twins, particularly identical twins, as they are the perfect subjects to gain insight into the effects of the environment on the genome, especially when it comes to diseases. Because identical twins share the same DNA, any differences they have that are environmentally induced most likely show up in their epigenome. In a case where one identical twin has a disease, but the other does not, researchers can look at the twins’ environments for [more…]

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