Evidence has been building in recent years that our diet, our habits or traumatic experiences can have consequences for the health of our children – and even our grandchildren. The explanation that has gained most currency for how this occurs is so-called ‘epigenetic inheritance’ – patterns of chemical ‘marks’ on or around our DNA that are hypothesised to be passed down the generations. But new research from the University of Cambridge suggests that this mechanism of non-genetic inheritance is likely to be very rare.
A team of scientists at the University of Cambridge has developed an artificial mouse embryo-like structure capable of forming the three major axes of the body. The technique, reported today in the journal Nature, could reduce the use of mammalian embryos in research.
The past few years has seen an explosion in the number of studies using organoids – so-called ‘mini organs’. While they can help scientists understand human biology and disease, some in the field have questioned their usefulness. But as the field matures, we could see their increasing use in personalised and regenerative medicine.
An international research project to sequence whole genomes from mountain gorillas has given scientists and conservationists new insight into the impact of population decline on these critically endangered apes. While mountain gorillas are extensively inbred and at risk of extinction, research published today in Science finds more to be optimistic about in their genomes than expected.
When viruses such as influenza and Ebola jump from one species to another, their ability to cause harm can change dramatically, but research from the University of Cambridge shows that it may be possible to predict the virus’s virulence by looking at how deadly it is in closely-related species.
What it lacks in genes, it certainly makes up for in legs: the genome of the humble centipede has been found to have around 15,000 genes – around 7,000 fewer than a human.
Researchers at the University of Cambridge have managed to reconstruct the early stage of mammalian development using embryonic stem cells, showing that a critical mass of cells – not too few, but not too many – is needed for the cells to being self-organising into the correct structure for an embryo to form.
A new study at the University of Cambridge has allowed researchers to peer into unexplored regions of the genome and understand for the first time the role played by more than 250 genes key to cell growth and development.
When a pregnant mother is undernourished, her child is at a greater than average risk of developing obesity and type 2 diabetes, in part due to so-called ‘epigenetic’ effects. A new study in mice demonstrates that this ‘memory’ of nutrition during pregnancy can be passed through sperm of male offspring to the next generation, increasing risk of disease for her grandchildren as well – in other words, to adapt an old maxim, ‘you are what your grandmother ate’.