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 BLUEPRINT for blood cells: Cambridge researchers play leading role in major release of epigenetic studies17 Nov 2016
Cambridge researchers have played a leading role in several studies released today looking at how variation in and potentially heritable changes to our DNA, known as epigenetic modifications, affect blood and immune cells, and how this can lead to disease.
Researchers have identified the role that a four-stranded version of DNA may play in the role of cancer progression, and suggest that it may be used to develop new targeted cancer therapies.
The world of epigenetics – where molecular ‘switches’ attached to DNA turn genes on and off – has just got bigger with the discovery by a team of scientists from the University of Cambridge of a new type of epigenetic modification.
Azim Surani (Wellcome Trust/Cancer Research UK Gurdon Institute) discusses gene editing of the human germline.
A rare DNA base, previously thought to be a temporary modification, has been shown to be stable in mammalian DNA, suggesting that it plays a key role in cellular function.
A team of researchers led by the University of Cambridge has described for the first time in humans how the epigenome – the suite of molecules attached to our DNA that switch our genes on and off – is comprehensively erased in early primordial germ cells prior to the generation of egg and sperm.
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’.