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.

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 […]

Telomere Gene Holds Key to Pluripotency

A gene that codes for a telomere protein is the key to regulating stem cell pluripotency, new research shows. Pluripotent stem cells have the ability to differentiate into any type of specialised cell in the body. They hold huge potential for a range of regenerative medical treatments. Scientists have previously struggled to understand the genetic […]

Alzheimer’s Drug Reverses Harmful Effects of Teenage Drinking in Rats

An Alzheimer’s drug that is used to slow cognitive decline can reverse the brain damage caused by teenage drinking, shows a new rat-based study. Adolescent brains are more susceptible to alcohol damage than adult brains. Excessive teenage drinking reduces the formation of neurons in the hippocampus which impairs learning and memory. The damage can also […]

Fish Can Conserve Memories Across Generations

The myth of the goldfish’s three second memory has long prevailed in popular culture. However, new research has suggested that unlike humans, fish are able to conserve memories over generations using epigenetic mechanisms. Epigenetic modifications can change the expression of DNA without changing the DNA code itself. Often this is in the form of DNA […]

Science of Gender-Swapping Fish Revealed

New research has explored the dynamic genetic changes taking place during the bluehead wrasse’s sex change. The bluehead wrasse social group consists of one dominant blue male fish and a harem of yellow females. However, when the dominant male is removed from the group the largest female immediately undergoes a full sex change and becomes […]

Effects of Poverty Make Their Mark on 1,500 Genes in the Body

A study conducted by Northwestern University researchers has found that long-term poverty can be “embedded” across the genome. Lower socioeconomic status was found to be associated with levels of DNA methylation, a key epigenetic mark that can influence expression, across more than 1,500 genes.