Twins Study Reveals Epigenetic Signature Linked to Obesity

December 12, 2023 Elizabeth Fontanilles

Obesity stands as a multifaceted health concern affecting millions worldwide. While diet and lifestyle play pivotal roles, researchers are now looking much deeper to determine if susceptibility to obesity could be identified at a molecular level within human cells. In a recent study led by distinguished biology professor Michael Skinner at Washington State University (WSU), a comprehensive twin study was undertaken to probe the epigenetic factors associated with obesity. Their findings uncovered specific DNA methylation regions (DMRs) intricately connected to [more…]

Epigenetic Changes Dictate Cancer’s Course

November 29, 2023 Natalie Crowley

Understanding the intricate interplay between genetics and cancer progression has long captivated the scientific community. While genetic mutations have been the main focal point in oncology, recent strides have illuminated the profound influence of epigenetic modifications in the development of cancer. In a recent study published in the journal Nature, Dr. Eduard Porta from the Josep Carreras Leukaemia Research Institute and his team have shed light on the pivotal role that epigenetics plays in steering cells on their journey from [more…]

Unveiling the Epigenetic Impact of Formaldehyde: A Hazardous Environmental Pollutant

November 14, 2023 Natalie Crowley

A global team of researchers has unveiled a groundbreaking revelation regarding formaldehyde, a pervasive environmental pollutant and a common metabolite in the human body. Contrary to its previous characterization solely as a DNA mutagen, formaldehyde has been found to disrupt the epigenetic programming of cells, establishing a deeper link with cancer. Dr. Lucas Pontel, group leader at the Josep Carreras Leukaemia Research Institute, and Dr. Manel Esteller, group leader and director of the institution, collaborated on the published paper in [more…]

AI Detects Disease Clues from DNA Methylation Data

November 1, 2023 Natalie Crowley

Artificial intelligence (AI) holds immense potential to transform healthcare by unraveling intricate patterns within complex biological data, laying the foundation for personalized medical solutions. Researchers at Linköping University in Sweden have pioneered an AI-driven method to analyze epigenetic data, with wide-ranging applications in medicine and biology. Their advanced models not only accurately estimate individuals’ chronological age but also discern their smoking history. In the realm of genetics, numerous factors come into play, dictating which genes are activated or deactivated at [more…]

Epigenetic study uncovers non-coding Alzheimer’s-related genetic variants

October 17, 2023 Natalie Crowley

In the ongoing pursuit of understanding Alzheimer’s disease (AD), scientists are taking a closer look at the genetic landscape. Their investigation has revealed thousands of genetic variants linked to AD, many of which were once overlooked as non-coding regions of the genome. Recent advancements in the field of epigenetics have illuminated the critical role these non-coding variants play in gene regulation. However, how these gene changes affect Alzheimer’s risk and brain cells is still unclear. Researchers from the University of [more…]

Epigenetic Impact of Historical Trauma on Alaska Native Communities

October 3, 2023 Natalie Crowley

The history of Indigenous peoples in North America has been marked by enduring challenges, including genocide, land loss, and cultural upheaval since the arrival of European settlers. These experiences have left lasting effects on individuals and their cultures, influencing their social, psychological, and physical well-being. There’s a growing interest in understanding how historical traumas like these may be associated with genetic changes, particularly epigenetic changes like DNA methylation. In addition, researchers are exploring how the promotion of cultural preservation within [more…]

Unveiling the Epigenetic Mechanism Behind Immune Memory & T-Cell Dysfunction

September 5, 2023 Natalie Crowley

One remarkable trait of the immune system is its ability to remember past encounters with harmful pathogens, like viruses, parasites, and bacteria. The memory of these foreign agents, or “antigens” as they are called in scientific terms, allows for a swifter, more effective response if they happen to reappear. While immune memory is the basis of how vaccines work, the intricate underlying mechanisms and the causes of dysfunctional immune responses remain areas of active scientific exploration. In a recent study [more…]

The Epigenetic Impact of Cannabis Use During Pregnancy on Child’s Health

August 8, 2023 Natalie Crowley

In recent years, the popularity and availability of cannabis has grown significantly, with various consumption methods like edibles gaining traction. However, alongside this trend, there has been a worrisome increase in cannabis use among pregnant women. Unfortunately, our understanding of the detailed effects of using cannabis during pregnancy on the developing child remains limited. Because normal fetal development relies on the crucial process of epigenetic regulation and gene expression modification, it has been suggested that studying the molecular changes linked [more…]

Breaking the Cycle: Promising Epigenetic Breakthrough in Opioid Addiction Relapse Prevention

July 25, 2023 Pamela A. Harvey

Opioid misuse has led to an unprecedented crisis, with more than 3 million people in the United States experiencing dependence or addiction (1). Despite the success of in-patient rehabilitation programs, relapse rates are approaching 90%, creating a critical need for effective relapse prevention strategies (2).  To address this, researchers from Boston University and Icahn School of Medicine asked whether long-term changes in gene transcription occur after opioid withdrawal. Their analyses identified a novel epigenetic mechanism involved in difficult withdrawal symptoms [more…]

Study Reveals How Epigenetic Changes Allow Pioneer TFs to Access DNA

July 11, 2023 Natalie Crowley

Think of DNA as a thread wound around a spool. It’s packed and wrapped around structures called nucleosomes, resembling beads along the thread. This compact packaging provides organization and protection for the DNA. However, in areas where the DNA is densely packed, it can pose a challenge for proteins attempting to reach it. Interestingly, there are certain proteins that possess the remarkable ability to access tightly wound DNA. These proteins, known as pioneer transcription factors, have evolved special mechanisms that [more…]

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