Dad’s Drinking Could Epigenetically Affect Son’s Sensitivity and Preference for Alcohol

June 18, 2014 Bailey Kirkpatrick

According to a new study from University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, a father’s excessive drinking behavior could set up his son for , even before conception. Results published in PLOS ONE demonstrate that mice show more sensitivity to alcohol’s effects and are less likely to drink it if their fathers were chronically exposed to the substance before mating. This recent animal study adds to the evidence linking heredity and the propensity for alcohol abuse. Previous studies support the inheritance of [more…]

Epigenetic Change Tied to Hardening of the Arteries

June 11, 2014 Bailey Kirkpatrick

New research suggests that when patterns of blood flow are disturbed, epigenetic changes occur to the genes in the cells lining blood vessels, contributing to hardening of the arteries, otherwise known as atherosclerosis. Characterized by the accumulation of inflammatory cells and fats in arteries, this disease often precedes strokes and heart attacks. Blood flow and the natural curves of the arteries are known to dictate where atherosclerotic plaques develop. Along with his colleagues, Hanjoong Jo, a biomedical engineer and professor [more…]

Do We Already Have A Drug That Could Epigenetically Erase Traumatic Memories?

June 4, 2014 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Scientists at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine discovered that the drug fingolimod, which is used to treat multiple sclerosis (MS), could potentially benefit individuals who wish to get rid of painful and traumatic memories. While MS is still not entirely understood, the disease involves a process that is immune-mediated in which the immune system attacks healthy parts of the body, namely the central nervous system – the spinal cord, brain, and optic nerves. Fingolimod, or FTY720, is a [more…]

Scientists Solve 30 Year Old Breast Cancer Riddle

May 28, 2014 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Scientists at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center found that mice lacking one copy of a gene called CTCF have abnormal DNA methylation and are markedly predisposed to cancer. This ground-breaking research helps solve a mystery that has loomed for over 30 years – which gene or genes cause the frequent loss of one copy of chromosome 16  in breast cancer cells. Dr. Gala Flippova, staff scientist at Fred Hutchinson, and his colleagues originally cloned the CTCF gene and mapped [more…]

Computer Algorithm Uses Epigenetics to Identify “Aging Genes”

May 21, 2014 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Restricting calorie consumption without malnutrition has been shown to prolong lifespan in various species, including yeast, worms, flies, monkeys, and humans. Although the underlying mechanism is not yet known, an advanced computer algorithm sheds light on the concept and potential causes. At Tel Aviv University’s Blavatnik School of Computer Science, Keren Yizhak and her colleagues developed something called a genome-scale metabolic model (GSMM), creating a computer algorithm that predicts which genes can be “turned off” to produce the same anti-aging [more…]

Epigenetics Holds the Answer to Chemoresistance in Ovarian Cancer Patients

May 14, 2014 Bailey Kirkpatrick

A study conducted at Georgia State University and the University of Georgia gives us novel insight into the chemoresistance of ovarian cancer and offers a potential therapeutic approach to overcoming it. Inhibiting enzymes that lead to changes in gene expression could decrease chemotherapy resistance in ovarian cancer patients, researchers say. Dr. Susanna Greer and her colleagues have identified two enzymes that suppress proteins that regulate cell survival and chemoresistance in ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer is the deadliest of all gynecologic [more…]

Genotype and Womb Environment Epigenetically Influence Babies’ Development

May 6, 2014 Bailey Kirkpatrick

A multitude of studies support that the quality of a child’s environment in the womb significantly influences health and development over his or her lifetime. Scientists at the University of Southampton, UK and National University of Singapore have analyzed epigenetic marks on DNA in order to determine how much a baby’s development in the womb is dictated by his or her genotype compared to the mother’s mental and physical health. In the study published in Genome Research, scientists used samples [more…]

Bones of Ancient Relatives Give Us Epigenetic Clues About Ourselves

April 30, 2014 Bailey Kirkpatrick

We already know a lot about early modern humans based on scientific evidence collected from our ancestors, gaining clues from migration patterns and remnants left abandoned for ages. However, very little is known about our prehistoric relatives, the Neanderthals and Denisovans, who lived thousands of years before us. With little evidence on hand and even smaller fragments of their DNA to spare, researchers are using epigenetics to give clues about why our archaic cousins differ from us, despite our very [more…]

A Father’s Stress Felt for Generations

April 23, 2014 Bailey Kirkpatrick

New scientific research suggests that the negative effects of trauma can be inherited. Fathers may actually transfer the consequences of their early experiences to their children via an epigenetic process. Researchers report that mice that experienced stress early on passed down the negative consequences – depression, underestimation of risk, and upset of metabolism – to their offspring, even if their offspring were not directly exposed to stress or trauma. In a recent study, Isabelle Mansuy and her colleagues at the [more…]

Eat Well, Exercise Regularly and Monitor Your Epigenome

April 11, 2014 Milka Rodriguez

Cardiometabolic disease (CMD) is a term used to define risk factors associated with the development of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.  One major characteristic which contributes to these risk factors is obesity. Worldwide, obesity has nearly doubled since 1980 and in 2008, more than 1.4 billion adults 20 and older were overweight (1).  Additionally more than 40 million children under the age of five were overweight in 2011 (1). Childhood obesity is associated with a higher chance of obesity, premature death [more…]

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