Disease & Health

Epigenetics may be involved in human diseases and health in many different ways. First, there are a small number of rare diseases that are considered epigenetic diseases, most of these involve mutations in genes for enzymes and proteins involved in making epigenetic modifications. Rett syndrome is one example in which people are born without a protein that is vital for the process of methylation that allows cells to shut off genes. Epigenetics may also play an active role in the development and the treatment of cancer, as the disease is characterized by ‘out of control cell division caused by mutations. Many researchers believe they can correct the behavior of these cells by altering the activity of these mutated genes. Drugs already exist on the market that does this, and the epigenetic drug market is expected to boom in the coming years driven mostly by new cancer drugs. There is emerging evidence that epigenetics may also play a vital role in treating diseases that don’t necessarily have etiologies rooted in gene regulation. Drugs that target gene activity as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, metabolic conditions, and autoimmune conditions may all soon be available.

Understanding Epigenetics:
Disease & Health
Check out these stories for more context on epigenetics and agriculture
Epigenetics: Core misconcept
Mark Ptashne | Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
The role of epigenetics in renal ageing
June 22, 2017 | Paul G. Shiels | Nature Reviews Nephrology
Click chemistry enables preclinical evaluation of targeted epigenetic therapies
June 20, 2017 | Dean S. Tyler, Johanna Vappiani | Science
Epigenetics and noncommunicable diseases
June 15, 2017 | Gemma C. Sharp, Caroline L Relton | Epigenomics
Application of CRISPR/Cas9 to the study of brain development and neuropsychiatric disease
June 15, 2017 | Suzanne Powell | Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience
Omega 3 fatty acids, inflammation and DNA methylation: an overview
June 14, 2017 | Bethan Hussey, Martin Lindley, Sarabjit S. Mastana | Clinical Lipidology
Epigenetic resetting of human pluripotency
June 14, 2017 | Ge Guo | bioRxiv
Distinct DNA methylation profiles in subtypes of orofacial cleft
June 13, 2017 | Gemma C. Sharp | Clinical Epigenetics
Propagation of Polycomb-repressed chromatin requires sequence-specific recruitment to DNA
June 08, 2017 | Friederike Laprell, Katja Finkl, Jürg Müller | Science