New Function of ‘Master Regulator’ in Pancreatic Cell Formation Uncovered in Chromatin Immunoprecipitation Study

August 11, 2015 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Can a gene direct embryonic stem cells (ESCs) to develop into one organ, while also serving to prevent it from becoming another?  Researchers at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) in Singapore used a technique known as chromatin immunoprecipitation to demonstrate this occurrence. They found that one particular human gene directs ESCs to develop into a pancreas but also, at the same time, it acts as a repressor by preventing the stem cells from turning into liver cells. [more…]

Chromatin Immunoprecipitation Study Supports HDAC Inhibitor as Possible Lung Cancer Treatment

July 28, 2015 Bailey Kirkpatrick

A person’s genetic code can contribute to their risk for developing non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), which accounts for about 85% of lung cancers. Epigenetics, the study of chemical tags that impact gene expression without altering the genetic sequence, is shown to also profoundly influence the development of cancer. In a study by Asan Medical Center researchers from The University of Ulsan College of Medicine in Korea, chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP)-on-chip assays and other techniques were used to investigate the epigenetic [more…]

New Research Sheds Light on the Epigenetics of Common Variable Immunodeficiency

July 21, 2015 Bailey Kirkpatrick

For the very first time, epigenetic alterations have been linked to common variable immunodeficiency (CVID), the most commonly diagnosed primary immunodeficiency that leads to a decrease in antibodies and an increase in developing an infection. Scientists at the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) and La Paz Hospital (IDIPAZ) in Spain looked at monozygotic twins and measured epigenetic differences, specifically DNA methylation levels, between one twin with CVID and the other without the disease. The group of researchers, directed by Dr. [more…]

Histone Demethylation Plays a Role in Turning Stem Cells into Blood Vessel Cells

July 7, 2015 Bailey Kirkpatrick

How stem cells become specific cell types is an intricate process, yet understanding the mechanisms that trigger this process may well prove to be beneficial for use in repairing and regenerating tissue.  In a recent study, scientists at the University of Illinois at Chicago investigated the molecular mechanism, histone demethylation, and how it plays an essential role in mediating the conversion of stem cells into mature endothelial cells, which then produce blood vessels. Their findings, recently published in Stem Cell [more…]

An Epigenetic Link Between Memory Loss and Epilepsy

June 30, 2015 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham have discovered a potential epigenetic explanation for why individuals with epilepsy, particularly temporal lobe epilepsy, usually experience memory loss. They even propose a way to undo that loss of memory. Published recently in the Annals of Translational and Clinical Neurology, a group of UAB scientists believes their results could progress our understanding of numerous other disorders involving memory loss and could lead to a therapeutic approach for restoring proper memory function via [more…]

DNA Methylation, Melting DNA, and Twins: Advancing Forensic Investigations

June 23, 2015 Bailey Kirkpatrick

DNA profiling, also known as genetic fingerprinting has been crucial to the forensic investigation of crime scenes since the 1980s. Although important to the success of many cases, this technique comes with some limitations, particularly when investigators are trying to match DNA evidence to a twin. Using this method, it is difficult to conclusively determine which twin may be innocent and which may be guilty because of their identical DNA sequence. Scientists at the University of Huddersfield, however, conducted research [more…]

Bisulfite Sequencing of Ancient DNA May Lead to Clues about Old Populations

June 9, 2015 Bailey Kirkpatrick

For the first time, anthropologists from The University of Texas at Austin have shown that epigenetic tags on DNA, such as DNA methylation, can be successfully detected in the remains of ancient human DNA using bisulfite sequencing. These results can help progress future studies to enhance our understanding of disease and famine experienced by those from ancient times. Epigenetic research assesses various chemical marks made to DNA which do not alter the underlying genetic code, but impact how certain genes [more…]

DNA Methylation Gives Epigenetic Hope to Cocaine Addiction Treatment

June 2, 2015 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Not only is cocaine a highly addictive drug, but it also comes with an incredibly high chance of relapse even after someone has abstained and experienced symptoms of withdrawal. A new study is illuminating the epigenetic changes made to DNA during the withdrawal stage for those trying to rid themselves of the drug and offers new hope for more effective epigenetic-based treatments for drug addiction. According to researchers from McGill University and Bar Ilan University, the genes found in your [more…]

Smoking Linked to Epigenetic Warning Signs of Cancer in Cheek Cells

May 26, 2015 Bailey Kirkpatrick

New research published in JAMA Oncology shows that DNA damage that occurs as a result of smoking may be found in cheek swabs. In light of this research, smoking is thought to adjust the epigenetic profile of cheek cells and the resulting epigenetic landscape may even be used as an early warning sign of other cancers typically unrelated to smoking, such as gynecological and breast cancers. Professor Martin Widschwendter, Head of the Department of Women’s Cancer at the UCL Institute [more…]

DNA Methylation and Glucocorticoid Resistance Offers Clues to Improve Cancer Drugs

May 12, 2015 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Scientists from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital conducted a study that illuminates a mechanism by which leukemia cells resist steroids, a key factor detrimental to the success of chemotherapy. This discovery could help create more effective cancer drugs and improve the treatment of many autoimmune related diseases. The researchers looked at a certain type of steroid hormones involved in the immune system, known as glucocorticoids. These hormones are crucial components to the chemotherapy drug cocktail that has helped increase long-term [more…]

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