Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scientists Take Early Steps Toward Mapping Epigenetic Variability

Date:
August 17, 2009
Source:
Brown University
Summary:
Scientists have taken the first steps toward mapping epigenetic variability in cells and tissues. Mapping the human epigenome, similar to the human genome project in the 1990s, could someday allow for quicker and more precise disease diagnoses and more targeted treatments of many chronic ailments.

Brown University and other scientists have taken the first steps toward mapping epigenetic variability in cells and tissues. Mapping the human epigenome, similar to the human genome project in the 1990s, could someday allow for quicker and more precise disease diagnoses and more targeted treatments of many chronic ailments.

Details are published online in the latest edition of PLoS Genetics.

Epigenetics, a relatively new endeavor in science, refers to the control of the patterns of gene expression in cells, which gives rise to the necessary differences responsible for creating the complex and interacting tissues in the body.

Scientists globally have begun working on a Human Epigenome Project in a bid to compile detailed data documenting, within a person, the epigenetic changes in different types of cells and tissues, something that will complement the already-completed Human Genome Project.

The Brown-led effort completes a far-reaching study of more than 200 human tissue samples in a bid to map variations in epigenomic structure. Collaborators from the Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School, the University of California–San Francisco, University of Minnesota–Minneapolis, Dartmouth Medical School, Women & Infants Hospital in Providence, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston took part in the effort.

Their findings: Human cells display wide epigenetic variation that appears related to aging and smoking, which may increase susceptibility to several diseases such as cancer. While the scientists emphasize that more research is necessary, they say that taking a step to map epigenetic variability will help bring them closer to discovering important epigenetic differences in people, which in turn could help better diagnose disease and create more targeted treatments. Alterations in epigenetic marks in cells have been linked to many diseases and conditions in humans, including cancer.

“Scientists have already found out it is critical to look at genetic variation to diagnose disease,” said Brock Christensen, a postdoctoral research associate at Brown University’s Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. “What we are trying to do is complement that by looking at what is normal and how much variation in epigenetics exists.”

Christensen said that more tissue samples and data are needed to allow for a thorough mapping of epigenetic variability in cells.

That endeavor is important, as scientists need to gauge normal human epigenomic variability as part of the broader mapping process, said Karl Kelsey, corresponding author and a Brown professor of community health and pathology and laboratory medicine.

“The real importance of the work has to do with beginning to define what is normal in different tissues,” Kelsey said. “And then you dig deeper to see what is the same and different about different people.”

The study involved analysis of 217 nonpathologic human tissue sampless including blood, lung, head and neck, and brain tissue.

Multiple grants through the National Institutes of Health funded the study.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Brown University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Christensen1 et al. Aging and Environmental Exposures Alter Tissue-Specific DNA Methylation Dependent upon CpG Island Context. PLoS Genetics, 2009; DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1000602

Cite This Page:

Brown University. "Scientists Take Early Steps Toward Mapping Epigenetic Variability." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 August 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090814165307.htm>.
Brown University. (2009, August 17). Scientists Take Early Steps Toward Mapping Epigenetic Variability. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090814165307.htm
Brown University. "Scientists Take Early Steps Toward Mapping Epigenetic Variability." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090814165307.htm (accessed September 21, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

AP (Sep. 21, 2014) Sierra Leone residents remained in lockdown on Saturday as part of a massive effort to confine millions of people to their homes in a bid to stem the biggest Ebola outbreak in history. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Newsy (Sep. 20, 2014) Sierra Leone is locked down as aid workers and volunteers look for new cases of Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) A study suggest antidepressants can kick in much sooner than previously thought. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins