WHAT IS EPIGENETICS?the study of changes in gene activity that do not cause alterations to the genetic code, but can still be passed on to next generations
HISTORY-New branch of scientific study-Conrad Waddington first coined the name of Epigenetics, combining the fields of developmental Biology and Genetics-The idea that the methylation of DNA could affect gene expression, and that these patterns could be heritable, was announced by two groups in 1975
TECHNIQUES / METHODSChromatin Remodeling - genes are regulatedMethylation- addition of a methyl groupAcetylation- active transcription
ADVANTAGESMajor ways in which gene expression is regulatedDetermines the differences between the cells in your bodyLoss of the modifications often leads to cancerReprogram cells to different functions
DISADVANTAGESHand in hand with stem cell researchControversialPotentially dangerous side effects
FUTUREStriving to cure Epigenetic diseases such as cancer The drug azacitidine treats leukemiaHuman Genome ProjectDoctors reexamining past epigenetic cures
EXAMPLES (CONT.) identical twins have identical DNA. But , duringtheir lifetimes there are differences in theirphenotypes. One possible explanation could bechanges in the epigenetic factors that affect genesand modify gene expression. Twins have someepigenetic factors that are identical in early life,but they acquire differences as time passes. Itcould be that these differences modify genes insuch a way as to create the phenotype differencesthat have been observed.