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…]

Using CRISPR/Cas9 to Epigenetically Activate or Deactivate Genes

December 7, 2021 Natalie Crowley

Since the discovery of the CRISPR-Cas9 system, targeting DNA more precisely for genetic editing has become a lot easier. However, removing part of the genetic code may not be necessary in all cases, especially if there were a way to switch off a gene of interest instead. Thankfully, scientists have found that CRISPR/Cas9 can also be used to do just this – deactivate genes without altering the underlying DNA sequence. When we refer to a cell’s DNA, we’re actually talking [more…]

Scientists Epigenetically Rejuvenate Aging Bone Marrow Stem Cells

November 23, 2021 Natalie Crowley

Most people don’t think about their bones until maybe they break one. But breaking a bone, especially when you are older, could signify that your bones are weak. As we age, our bones become thinner, and our risk for diseases like osteoporosis is higher. This is because the stem cells responsible for keeping bone tissue dense and strong become impaired as we age. Research over the past few years has shown that aging is a process that involves epigenetic factors, [more…]

Epigenetic Study Links Smoke Exposure in Early Life to Advanced Aging

October 26, 2021 Natalie Crowley

Not everyone ages gracefully. That’s true for people who don’t take care of themselves as adults, but it’s also true for someone whose health was jeopardized at a young age from contact with something harmful, like air pollution or poor diet. In particular, smoking exposure during early development has been linked with numerous adverse health conditions, and now a new study shows that it, as well as other harmful pollutants, can cause advanced biological aging. Early life, beginning in the [more…]

Mapping the Epigenome for Pain Relief

October 12, 2021 Natalie Crowley

There are a lot of medications and techniques available for relieving pain today, but getting the right ones that work best for a patient is still challenging. First and foremost, a physician needs an accurate description of the pain to help treat it. However, communicating the location and intensity of pain isn’t that straightforward for many patients, even when asked detailed questions. That’s because pain symptoms are unique to each person and subjective. What may be considered unbearable to one [more…]

How Inflammation Epigenetically Primes Epithelial Cells to Promote Pancreatic Cancer 

September 28, 2021 Natalie Crowley

Pancreatic cancer may not be as common as some cancers, but it has a bad reputation for being highly fatal, especially since it’s difficult to detect early. Smoking, diabetes, family history, and alcohol abuse are among the top risk factors associated with this disease. While it’s difficult to determine the exact causes of pancreatic cancer, a key mediator in its development is inflammation. Understanding why inflammation might lead to tumor growth in the pancreas has scientists examining the underlying mechanisms [more…]

Exercise Training Epigenetically Benefits Overall Health

September 14, 2021 Natalie Crowley

There’s no question that exercise is good for you, not only for developing a great physique but for overall health. Some would even say that regular exercise, combined with proper nutrition, is better at preventing and treating certain diseases than many pharmacological interventions. Even so, medical experts are still trying to determine exactly how physical fitness affects the chemical make-up of the body, especially regarding how it reduces the risks of developing chronic illnesses like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and [more…]

Predicting Schizophrenia Risk Based on Epigenetics

August 31, 2021 Natalie Crowley

Schizophrenia is a complex and severe mental illness that affects approximately 1% of the global population. Often misdiagnosed for symptoms similar to other cognitive disorders, this condition lacks a valid biochemical laboratory test to support its clinical diagnosis. Studies have shown that schizophrenia has both genetic and environmental components, suggesting that epigenetic dysregulation is likely an important contributor to its etiology. Thus, developing a diagnostic tool that can identify these abnormal epigenetic modifications could help detect the disease properly and [more…]

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