Genetics

Mom’s Diet Right Before Pregnancy Can Alter Baby’s Genes

Posted on May 7, 2014

Mom’s Diet Right Before Pregnancy Can Alter Baby’s Genes

Pregnant women have heard it time and time again: What you eat during those nine months can have long-term effects on your child’s health. Heck, one study even that when pregnant women eat a diverse diet, the resulting babies are less picky in the foods they choose. So what about mom’s eating habits before she even knows she’s pregnant? Nutritional deficiencies right at the time of conception can alter a baby’s genes permanently, scientists at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine Tuesday. The study, published in Nature Communications, is the first to show that an environmental factor during the first few days of development can change DNA long term. The researchers didn’t look at how these genetic changes affect overall fetal development or the baby’s health later in life. And they analyzed only six genes. But there’s growing from other studies that similar types of genetic changes may help determine a child’s risk for some diseases, including diabetes, mental disorders and autism. “Can diet affect other genes? What’s the biological impact of those [DNA] modifications? At the moment we don’t know the answer to those questions,” says nutritionist , who contributed to the study. “But subsequent research we have — and haven’t [yet] published — says it does matter.” Now we’re not talking about altering the DNA code itself — you know, the building blocks of genes, the ? Rather, Prentice says the dietary effects he and his team have found seem to be changing whether genes are turned on or off in that earliest stage of embryonic development. This on-and-off switch is controlled by decorating the DNA with a special tag, called . How much the six genes got tagged in the developing embryo depended on the levels of a few micronutrients in the mom’s blood at the time of conception, Prentice and his team found. The team examined several B vitamins and nutrients associated with them. They couldn’t pinpoint exactly which ones were most important. But in general, when several of these nutrients, including vitamin B2, were at lower levels in mom’s blood, the six genes had less methylation. “The vitamin levels [in all the women] weren’t way out of the normal range either,” Prentice says. “If you took the blood to your doctor, he would say they were normal.” The team also found a link between the DNA methylation and mom’s body mass index at the time of conception. The heavier the mother, the less methylation. And again, none of the moms were obese. “There were no overweight women in this group,” Prentice says. “Even then, we found a strong link between the mother’s BMI and methylation patterns.” For years, scientists have observed a similar phenomenon in mice: Diet and weight, at the time of conception, alter a baby’s DNA methylation. To check for the effect in people, Prentice and his team turned to women in . Families there rely on their gardens for most of their food, he says, “so the weather patterns completely change the foods eaten throughout the year.” In the rainy season, residents get fewer calories but more nutrient-rich vegetables. In the dry season, they have more calories but dishes are less vitamin-packed. “I think the study is great,” says Duke University’s , who wasn’t involved in the work. “We’ve hypothesized that this time right around conception is a critical period. It’s pretty exciting to see it.” Although the team only looked at six genes, Murphy says she thinks the effect shown in these stretches of DNA could reflect what’s happening throughout the genome. “They could be the canary in...

Read More

Shocked scientists discover the skin communicates with the liver

Posted on Dec 12, 2013

Shocked scientists discover the skin communicates with the liver

Skin: It is your body’s largest organ, and groundbreaking new research out of Denmark has found that the proper function of your other vital organs is dependent upon its integrity. A collaborative research project out of the University of Southern Denmark (USD) recently discovered that human skin directly communicates and interacts with the rest of the body, meaning that, when it is not in good health, there is a good chance that the same is true about other vital organs. Professor Susanne Mandrup and her team stumbled upon this finding while researching something else, which she says came as quite a shock. While working with Nils Faergeman’s research group at USD’s Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Mandrup and her team observed that human skin literally “talks” to other vital organs, including the liver, which is responsible for filtering out toxins and processing carbohydrates and fats. According to Science Daily, the team had been conducting research on so-called “knock-out” mice, or mice that lack a special fat-binding protein known as acyl-CoA-binding protein, when they made the discovery. Some of the mice had strange, greasy fur and were having difficulties being weaned from their mothers, prompting researchers to take a closer look. Since these same mice were having difficulties processing fat through their livers, instead accumulating it over time, the team initially assumed that this probably had something to do with their missing liver genes. But after taking a closer look and conducting a series of experiments, it became clear that there was some other factor involved in this metabolic abnormality. “At first we thought that the fat accumulation in the liver was linked with the fact that the gene was missing in the liver of the knock-out mice,” stated Ditte Neess, one of the researchers. “But this was ruled out by a series of studies, and we had to find another explanation.” Unhealthy skin can lead to unhealthy organs, reveals study When they decided to take a second look at the mice, a combination of greasy fur and what appeared to be “leaky” skin led the team to some new conclusions. Since the leaky skin mice appeared to be losing more water than the other mice, making them colder, researchers hypothesized that this, and not the missing gene, was somehow responsible for a corresponding fat accumulation in the mice’s livers. “When they lose water, they also lose heat,” added Neess. “We therefore asked ourselves whether this water and heat loss could be the reason why the mice accumulated fat in the liver and became weak when weaned from their mother.” As it turns out, this hypothesis was correct. The knock-out mice with the skin and fur problems were more prone to fat accumulation in their livers, and this was the result of their unhealthy skin. After applying a petroleum-based jelly to the coats of the mice in question, and later liquid latex, both of which stopped the heat loss in the mice, their fat accumulation issues also stopped. “We have showed that the skin affects the metabolism in the liver, and that is quite a surprise,” stated the team. “We believe that the leaking of water from the skin makes the mice feel cold, and that this leads to breaking down of fat in their adipose (fat) tissue. The broken down fat is then moved to the liver.  The mice move energy from the tissues to the liver.” READ...

Read More

AUTISM: Bad air, genetics add up to higher risk

Posted on Dec 7, 2013

AUTISM: Bad air, genetics add up to higher risk

Air pollution and a common genetic makeup may interact to significantly increase a baby’s risk for autism, USC scientists found. The researchers at USC’s Keck School of Medicine cautioned in an interview that they need to do more studies to replicate their findings. The study, to be published in the January 2014 edition of the journal Epidemiology, found that children with the specific gene who spent their in-utero months and their first year after birth in polluted areas of California had three-fold higher risks for autism disorders. “We need to do more studies, but the genetic disposition and air pollution appear to work together to increase the risk of autism more than the risk of each one alone,” said the study’s lead author, Heather E. Volk, an assistant professor of research in preventive medicine at the medical school. Volk’s earlier work found that children had twice the risk of developing autism if their mothers lived within 1,000 feet of a busy freeway during pregnancy. For this research, Volk collaborated with genetics expert Daniel B. Campbell, an assistant professor in psychiatry and behavioral science at the USC medical school. Campbell explained by telephone that roughly half the population has what geneticists call the “MET receptor tyrosine kinase gene.” The gene is found in about 60 percent of people who have autism, indicating that those with the gene have a higher risk, he said. THE CHILDREN To probe the potential interplay between the gene and air quality, Volk, Campbell and their colleagues analyzed the genetics and air pollution exposures of 408 children in the Sacramento, San Francisco and Los Angeles areas; the children’s cases already were being tracked for research purposes. Of those children, 252 met the diagnostic criteria for the spectrum of autism disorders. Using regional air quality readings and traffic proximity data, the research team determined each child’s air pollution exposure while they were fetuses and in their first year after birth — a critical period in the development of the brain and other organs. The scientists used a blood test to determine each child’s genetics. The team found no increase in the autism risk among the children who had the gene but breathed relatively clean air. But those who had the gene and were exposed to air pollution were three times more likely to have the disease, Volk said. Beth Burt, president of the Autism Society Inland Empire, said she appreciates the research. “It is fascinating and important work,” said Burt, a Corona resident who has an autistic son who is 20. “It is not an either/or situation — genetics or the environment,” she said. “But it may be the combination of a genetic predisposition with an environmental trigger.” Lillian Vasquez, who also has a 20-year-old son with autism, said she was not surprised by USC’s findings. She said she has always thought autism was the result of genetics and some sort of trigger, such as a vaccination or an artificial sweetener. “Air pollution as a trigger seems quite plausible,” she said. Vasquez, vice president of the Inland autism society, has lived in Colton since before her pregnancy. Colton, like most of the Inland area, has long had unhealthful levels of air pollution. OTHER RESEARCH Autism disorders are incurable, lifelong brain disabilities characterized by problems with social interaction, communication and repetitive behaviors. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in 88 children in the United States has an autism disorder. Thousands of studies have linked air pollution to lung, heart and circulatory disorders. The work by Volk and her colleagues, however, is part of a...

Read More

Study Points to Methylation-based ‘Clock’ for Determining Tissue Age

Posted on Oct 21, 2013

Study Points to Methylation-based ‘Clock’ for Determining Tissue Age

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Methylation marks across the human genome may make up an “epigenetic clock” for gauging the chronological age of various tissues in the human body, according to a study published online last night in Genome Biology. A University of California at Los Angeles researcher used a computational method to fish out more than 350 age-informative cytosine methylation markers from thousands of healthy samples collected across the human lifespan and profiled using microarrays for prior studies. Findings from the study suggest the resulting methylation-based aging predictor can accurately determine chronological age across multiple tissue types. The work also offered insights into how tissues age with time and revealed differences in aging profiles between tissues and in tumor samples. More work is needed to untangle the nature of the relationship between age and the methylation profiles described in the study. “The big question is whether the biological clock controls a process that leads to aging,” the study’s author, Steve Horvath, a human genetics and biostatistics researcher affiliated with UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine and the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, said in a statement. “If so, the clock will become an important biomarker for studying new therapeutic approaches to keeping us young,” he added. In an effort to explore previously proposed ties between aging and epigenetics, Horvath brought together cytosine methylation profiles that had been ascertained for 7,844 samples using Illumina 27K or 450K arrays. The sample represented 51 non-cancerous human tissue and/or cell types and came from 82 different datasets, Horvath noted. With a training set that included 39 of the datasets, he used a so-called elastic net regression model to whittle down to a set of 352 cytosine methylation marks that appeared promising for predicting the age of multiple tissues. This methylation-based epigenetic clock was subsequently validated in healthy samples from dozens more studies before being used to assess aging patterns at specific cell stages or in tissue types. After establishing these methylation-based clocks in normal tissues, for instance, Horvath turned his attention to 5,826 cancer samples from 32 different DNA methylation datasets. That arm of the analysis indicated that the ability to predict age using the methylation clock tends to break down somewhat in tumor samples. Generally speaking, though, cancers have DNA methylation “ages” beyond their years and appear far older than corresponding non-cancerous tissue. That was especially true for tumors containing relatively modest somatic mutation burdens. It was also the case for some of the breast cancer samples examined in the study, though even normal breast tissue appeared to acquire more aged methylation marks than other tissues of the same chronological age. “Healthy breast tissue is about two to three years older than the rest of a woman’s body,” Horvath noted. “If a woman has breast cancer, the healthy tissue next to the tumor is an average of 12 years older than the rest of her body.” Breast tissue was one of the tissue types that showed less precise calibration on the DNA methylation-based aging clock, Horvath noted, particularly in the cancerous cases. But for samples from women without cancer, the epigenetic clock came up with age estimates that were within around seven-and-a-half years of individuals’ chronological age, on average. Induced pluripotent stem cells had “young” or “reset” epigenetic clocks, according to the study, reverting to methylation patterns reminiscent of those found in embryonic stem cells. At the other extreme, Horvath saw that methylation marks did not seem to coincide with age in samples from individuals with premature-aging conditions such as Werner syndrome or Hutchinson-Gilford progeria. Based on findings so far,...

Read More

DNA Can Be Reprogrammed by Words and Frequencies

Posted on Oct 2, 2013

DNA Can Be Reprogrammed by Words and Frequencies

Only 10% of our DNA is used for building proteins, while the other 90% are called “Junk DNA” Russian researchers have joined linguists and geneticists in a venture to explore those 90% of “junk DNA.” Their results, findings and conclusions are astounding. THE HUMAN DNA IS A BIOLOGICAL INTERNET, and superior in many aspects to the electronic one.  Russian scientific research may explain phenomena such as clairvoyance, intuition, spontaneous and remote acts of healing, self healing, affirmation techniques, unusual light/auras around people such as gurus and spiritual masters, humans influencing weather patterns and much more.  In addition, there is evidence for a whole new type of medicine in which DNA can be influenced and reprogrammed without cutting out and replacing genes. Only 10% of our DNA is used for building proteins.  It is this subset of DNA that is of most interest to western researchers..  The other 90% has been traditionally considered “junk DNA.”  Russian linguists Grayna Fosar and Franz Bludorf recently joined geneticists in a venture to explore those 90% of “junk DNA.”   Their results, findings and conclusions are simply revolutionary.  According to their research, our DNA is not only responsible for the construction of our body but also serves as data storage and in communication.   Fosar and  Bludorf found that the genetic code, especially in the apparently useless 90%, follows the same rules as all our human languages.   To this end they compared the rules of syntax (the way in which words are put together to form phrases and sentences), semantics (the study of meaning in language forms) and the basic rules of grammar.  They found that the alkalines of our DNA follow a regular grammar and do have set rules, just like our languages. Their conclusion is that human languages did not appear coincidentally but are a reflection of our inherent DNA. The Russian biophysicist and molecular biologist Pjotr Garjajev and his colleagues also explored the vibrational behavior of DNA.   Their conclusion: “Living chromosomes function just like solitonic/holographic computers using the endogenous DNA laser radiation.” Garjajev managed to modulate certain frequency patterns onto a laser ray and with it influenced the DNA frequency and thus the genetic information itself.  Since the basic structure of DNA-alkaline pairs and of language (as explained earlier) are of the same structure, no DNA decoding is necessary.  One can simply use words and sentences of the human language. This, too, was experimentally proven.  Living DNA substance reacts to language-modulated laser rays and even to radio waves, if the proper frequencies are being used. This finally and scientifically explains why affirmations, autogenous training, hypnosis and the like can have such strong effects on humans and their bodies. It is entirely natural for our DNA to react to language.  While western researchers cut single genes from the DNA strands and insert them elsewhere, the Russians enthusiastically worked on devices that can influence the cellular metabolism through suitable modulated radio and light frequencies and thus repair genetic defects. For example, Garjajev’s research group succeeded in proving that with this method, chromosomes damaged by x-rays can be repaired. They captured information patterns of a particular section of DNA and transmitted it onto another, thus reprogramming cells to another genome.  Remarkably, they were able to successfully transform frog embryos to salamander embryos, simply by transmitting frog DNA information patterns.  Using this mechanism, DNA information was transmitted without any of the side effects or disharmonies encountered when cutting out and re-introducing single genes from DNA.   This represents a  fundamental shift in our understanding and capabilities in transforming DNA.   Large-scale changes in DNA expression appear to be...

Read More