Epigenetics

The study of non genetic heritability. Epigenetics can have an incredible phenotypic effect, and the study of epigenetic factors and mechanisms is an exciting and developing field.

Machine Learning Identifies Epigenetic Markers of Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder, which has a 1% global lifetime risk. With the exact cause unknown, identifying biomarkers could be the key to unravelling the underlying mechanisms of this disease. Published in JAMA Psychiatry this week, researchers used whole-blood DNA methylation data and machine learning to identify a epigenetic signature for schizophrenia.

Vaping and Cigarette Users Share Epigenetic Hallmark

The epigenetics of people who use exclusively use vape pens versus cigarettes has been examined for the first time. Key epigenetic modifications were identified that were shared between vapers and smokers that are a hallmark of lung cancer. Vaping which has been generally marketed as a less dangerous alternative to smoking, has become increasingly popular […]

Telomere Maintenance Mutations and Cancer Cell Immortality

New research has identified mutations that could lead to the lengthening of telomeres, a hallmark of cancer cells and an important focus in developing targeted treatments. Scientists from the German Cancer Research Center looked at cancer cells to find the ways some of them achieve immortality in a study as part of the Pan-Cancer Analysis of Whole Genomes (PCAWG).

RNA Modification – A Viral Hideout

Scientists show how hMPV virus exploits RNA modification to prevent host differentiation of self and non-self RNA, thereby evading an innate immune response. This mechanism could serve as a hMPV vaccine target, and potentially more if found to be well-conserved.

Successfully Deleting Disease by Opening up DNA

Bioengineers based in the US have designed a “DNA-binding editorial assistant” that will allow gene-editing technology, like CRISPR, to access previously inaccessible genes of interest. The new protein design can be used to open up areas of the DNA that are obscured by chromatin, which would improve CRISPR efficiency and aid in developing more precise gene-editing techniques to combat disease.

Researchers Discover How to Silence Pain Through Epigenetics

Scientists at Navega Therapeutics in San Diego, California have discovered a way to target DNA to stop pain signals being sent and eliminate pain. In an article published by Pharmafile, the treatment could be available in five years to help sufferers of chronic pain or with long-term pain problems.

Epigenetics Found to Play a Role in Childhood Kidney Cancer

Researchers at the Wellcome Sanger Institute uncovered a possible pre-cancerous signature for Wilms’ tumour, a form of kidney cancer mainly affecting children under five years old. Published in Science, the research was the first to compare Wilms’ tumour tissue and healthy kidney tissue to identify any genetic changes that could possibly be predictive of disease progression.

Changes in Gut Microbiota Implicated in Colorectal Cancer

Gut microbiota has wide reaching effects on health and disease. A study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, PNAS, has demonstrated that gut imbalance promotes the onset of colorectal cancer, going on to invent a blood test to identify the epigenetic signatures.

New Alzheimer’s Risk Variant Identified

Alzheimer’s Disease is a devastating neurological condition affecting 24 million people worldwide. It is the most frequent form of dementia with a heritable risk that is not wholly understood. A study published in the Journal of Neuropathology & Experimental Neurology has identified a new risk gene that was previously overlooked.

SMAUG – A Helpful Prion?

Prions are viewed as disastrous for cells; unbreakable, infectious, clumps of protein that self-propagate leading to toxic gain or loss of function. However, researchers from Stanford University have discovered a new role for prions in transmitting epigenetic information and promoting proliferation.

The New Way to Age Your Dog (and People)

Scientists are looking for models of ageing to help determine the causes of many age-related diseases. By using Labradors, the researchers from the University of California have demonstrated a new model for ageing that can be applied to other mammalian species and provide insights into our own genome.

Alcohol Abuse Leaves Epigenetic Marks in Brain

Alcohol has been found to directly contribute to epigenetic markers in areas of the brain involved in learning and memory. It is therefore possible that stopping epigenetic marker deposition could be a promising therapy to treat alcohol addiction. Epigenetic markers are chemical modifications on DNA bases that alter the expression of genes without editing the […]

New Blood Test Can Detect Multiple Types of Cancer

A new blood test has been shown to identify different cancer types with a high degree of accuracy. When cancer cells die, they shed their DNA into the blood. Previous diagnostic tests work by identifying the genetic mutations present in the cancer cell DNA. However, this technique is limited in its ability to distinguish where […]

Cannabis Usage in Fathers Can Cause Inheritable Genetic Changes

Changing Attitudes to Cannabis Cannabis is now legalised for recreational use in 11 US states and attitudes around its risk are changing rapidly. Between 2002 and 2014, the percentage of adults in the US who perceived cannabis use as risky declined from 50% to 33%. However, as cannabis usage becomes more widespread the health risks […]