“Junk DNA” Might Actually Help to Breed Drought-Resistant Crops

November 12, 2019 Andrea P

From instruments through algorithms, new technology is empowering the scientific community to not only discover novel concepts but also to reshape existing ones. A new study from the Sainsbury Laboratory at the University of Cambridge (SLCU) as well as the Department of Plant Sciences has redefined the function and potential of transposable elements (TEs)—also known as transposons—in ways that could have a major impact on everything from economics and alleviating our global food shortage, through health and medicine. Transposable elements [more…]

A Mother’s Behavior Could Epigenetically Impact Infant Oxytocin Levels

November 5, 2019 Andrea P

“Nature vs. nurture” is an argument as old as time, and understanding how “nature” is expressed and how “nurture” carries lasting effects in individuals is important in determining health outcomes later in life, especially when it comes to the bond shared between a mother and her child. As we know, when a mother breastfeeds her child, she provides the baby with antibodies and nutrients to help ensure a healthy immune system, as well as other positive health benefits. A mother [more…]

Epigenetic Mechanism May Promote Healthy Aging

October 29, 2019 Andrea P

Aging is one of life’s inevitable processes, and has been a hot topic for scientific research over the last few years. As we know, aging has many epigenetic factors, and can be affected by a number of different things like depression, bipolar disorder, and menopause. Generally, aging results in negative health effects due to the decreasing ability for the body to repair damage done to tissues and DNA over time. But Dr. Baris Tursun from the Max Delbrück Center for [more…]

New Method to Understand Two levels of Epigenetic Changes in Tissues

October 22, 2019 Andrea P

More and more people are learning about how an individual’s genetic sequence determines their body’s development and how that also affects their health over a lifetime.  But genes alone are not the only factor contributing to the way an individual’s features emerge and perform. Things like how DNA is exposed—or not exposed—to the cellular machinery that carries it from code to reality are also vital to consider. The field of epigenetics is still rather young, and much effort is needed [more…]

Epigenetic Study Finds Overactive Hormone May Drive Hypersexual Disorder

October 15, 2019 Natalie Crowley

Sex is a natural and normal part of life. When practiced safely with a consenting partner, it’s not only pleasurable but has certain health benefits. However, some people can be obsessed with sex, to the point that it causes them more harm than does any good. These individuals are usually diagnosed with having hypersexual disorder (HSD) – a condition where excessive sexual thoughts and actions interfere with the ability to function day-to-day. Often accompanied by other medical conditions, the causes [more…]

Epigenetic Mechanism Can Repair Plants Damaged By Stress

October 8, 2019 Andrea P

Plants are an integral part of our ecosystem, major contributors to everything from purifying air quality all the way through providing a critical source of food within the food chain. They are constantly subjected to every environmental stressor imaginable, from natural disasters through manmade pollution. Understanding their relative vulnerability and their potential stress tolerance sheds light on how secure they are within our ecosystems, as well as what we can potentially try to do to protect them.  Protecting plant genetic material is [more…]

Binge Drinking May Be More Epigenetically Harmful To Women

October 1, 2019 Andrea P

One of the great pastimes of the human species is getting together to have a couple of beers after work, going out for cocktails on the weekend, or ending your evening with a nightcap before bed. Alcohol is a part of many cultural norms, and is fine in moderation, but could promote health problems down the line if consumed in excess too often, or too early. American adults of both sexes are no strangers to binge drinking; one out of [more…]

Assisted Reproduction May Lead to Epigenetic Changes for the Offspring

September 24, 2019 Andrea P

Assisted reproductive technology (ART) has helped millions of families give birth to babies furthering their own genetic lineage, using methods that range from in vitro fertilization through the cryopreservation of gametes. Of course, given the opportunity for errors and the manmade nature of this process, safety is one concern—and yet, as scientist Boris Novakovic notes, “Previous studies have found some epigenetic changes in embryos grown in labs. However, no study has looked for these changes in the same individuals at [more…]

Aspirin May Epigenetically Help Prevent Breast Cancer in Some, Enable it in Others

September 17, 2019 Andrea P

Widely lauded for its anti-inflammatory effects, aspirin is often resorted to in regular doses for disease prevention. For example, previous research studies have supported the idea that women who regularly take aspirin and then are diagnosed with breast cancer may live longer, which has perpetuated this as a medical recommendation. However, the latest study out of the University of North Carolina’s Gillings School of Global Public Health shed light on a subgroup of breast cancer patients for whom regular use [more…]

Epigenetic Changes May Pass Avoidance Behavior Down Multiple Generations

September 10, 2019 Andrea P

Science classes teach that an individual’s traits are mainly encoded in their genetic sequence—or DNA—which then gets transcribed into RNA that subsequently gets translated into the proteins that carry out cellular functions. But while this is generally true for the majority of traits, it does not account for how all characteristics are passed down across generations. It turns out, epigenetics may play a large role in how traits are inherited. Researchers at Princeton’s Department of Molecular Biology and the Lewis-Sigler [more…]

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