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…]

Epigenetic Regulation of a Single Gene Controls Drug and Stress Responses

December 2, 2014 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Researchers have found that the regulation of a specific gene located in an area of the brain linked to depression and drug addiction can reduce the way someone responds to drugs and stressful situations. A mouse study that focused on the epigenetic regulation of a single gene was carried out at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and was recently published in Nature Neuroscience. Earlier research supports a connection between epigenetic regulation and diseases related to depression and [more…]

Prenatal Maternal Stress Triggers Distinct DNA Methylation Signatures in Ice Storm Babies

November 18, 2014 Bailey Kirkpatrick

The Quebec Ice Storm of 1998 was a devastating time that plunged more than 3 million Quebecers into frigid darkness without electricity for as long as 45 days. Now, more than 15 years later, researchers from McGill University and the Douglas Mental Health University are finding out that the length of time a pregnant woman went without electricity during this time predicts her child’s epigenetic profile. Scientists have discovered a unique DNA ‘signature’ of children who were in the womb [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…]

Paternal Care of Stickleback Fish Hints at Epigenetic Influence on Offspring Behaviors

October 7, 2014 Bailey Kirkpatrick

We have previously seen how a mother’s environment or her behaviors might epigenetically affect her offspring. Now we have results that hint at the epigenetic effect fathers may pass on through generations. In a previous article we explored the heritability of alcoholism and how dad’s drinking could epigenetically affect a son’s preference for alcohol. In a new study conducted at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, researchers found that stickleback fish fathers may potentially alter their young epigenetically through increased [more…]

Inheritance and Transmission of Epigenetic Memory Across Generations

September 30, 2014 Bailey Kirkpatrick

New research has been suggesting that parents can transmit changes to their gene expression to their children. The heritable changes occur as a result of environmental stresses and are known as epigenetic modifications. A previous article covered the epigenetic transfer of nutrition “memory” across several generations. Now, a recent study by researchers from the University of California in Santa Cruz, demonstrates the transferring of epigenetic memory across generations as well as from one cell to another during early development. The [more…]

The Precise Power of CRISPR/Cas9 System Creates Exciting Opportunities for Genetic and Epigenetic Editing

September 23, 2014 Bailey Kirkpatrick

A breakthrough genome-editing technique known as CRISPR has been shown by MIT biological engineers to disrupt a single parasite gene in a matter of weeks, with a success rate as great as 100 percent. In light of this and other recent research, the possibilities for the CRISPR/Cas9 system are substantial for precisely editing the genome and epigenome. With this new approach quicker gene analysis and bolstered drug-development efforts can occur, according to associate professor of biological engineering at MIT, Jacquin [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…]

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