Epigenetic’s Science is written by award winning writer, Raoul Pedretta. Good bye, genetically encoded genes… the first book in the exciting new field of epigenetic biology for general readers. The surging new science of epigenetic genetics offers a veritable cornucopia of fresh insights into our own bodies and minds – some unsettling, some comforting. The premise of Epigenetic’s Science is the fact that environmental exposures can have long lasting effects on cellular function. Some of these effects are not very easy to reverse and the authors describe how”epigenetic inheritance” can lead to such illnesses as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s. They also describe the surprising effect of”epigenetic pollution,” environmental contaminants which are not detected by regular testing and that could cause serious health problems.
Like all living systems, cells are constantly changing and grow, divide and die. All cells require a continuous supply of energy, and this procedure is initiated by a process referred to as”mimetic induction”. Through natural selection, positive mutations accumulate over generations, and if they get together, these cells form a sort of cellular memory, or methylation state. This methylation state is passed on between generations and decides how cells in one family will act in response to environmental challenges and how those cells will react when similar challenges arise in a different family member.
When methylation is induced in a cell, the result can be a whole gamut of changes on the cell surface and in the biochemical pathways inside the cell. This results in alterations in gene function and a corresponding response on the body. There are many ways in which Epigenetic’s Science presents the science of Epigenetics. For instance, each chapter contains an informative section addressing one of the most common Epigenetic changes that exist in all of us: puberty. The chapters include;”Growthal Sensitivity,””Mutations at Birth,”” hormonal changes,””perinatal development,””adolescent-onset diabetes,” and”nutrition.” I enjoyed each of these and found them to be very interesting and educational.
As you know, during adolescence, the body increases its production of estrogen (in anticipation of future pregnancy), and in turn, produces DHT (which stands for”dihydrotestosterone”). DHT then binds to the hair follicles, which makes it difficult for nutrients to reach the roots. This causes baldness in a condition called”male pattern baldness” Interestingly, this isn’t the only cause of hair loss, since there are other environmental and genetic factors that contribute to hair loss. Epigenetic science goes a step further and suggests that these other causes of hair loss may also be influenced by methylation, so future research might shed more light on Epigenetic’s Science.
The next topic that Epigenetic’s Science touches on is the impact that diet has on the body. In particular, Epigenetic’s Science goes into detail about the effect that diet has on rats, rodents, and other organisms. To start with, one interesting finding was that when the worm C. elegans was given a high fat diet, it became obese and diabetic. Interestingly, the lab animals also lost muscle mass, which is suggestive of insulin resistance. In another experiment, the lab animals were put on a particular sort of diet where they just received food that contained carbohydrates; they lost body weight fairly rapidly.
In order to understand what’s going on here, you have to take a look at the Epigenetic’s Science methodology. Basically, they are growing yeast in lab cultures and watching what happens. When the yeast grows to a certain point, it is going to replicate and thus create a new generation of yeast cells. In cases like this, the creation of cells has been used to study insulin resistance, something that we humans have.
Of course, there are other Epigenetic’s Science techniques that they use, including gene regulation and the analysis of cancerous tumors. In actuality, they have recently established a successful clinical trial where they are attempting to treat Alzheimer’s disease in mice. As exciting as that may sound, it is not your everyday normal cancer therapy. This study shows that they are able to manipulate and regulate cells and stop the growth of cancerous tumors.
Besides diabetes, Epigenetic’s Science can be used for other types of diseases and ailments, such as Parkinson’s, arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis, and even cancer. Of course, these studies are extremely small so we do not have much of a sense of what they will mean for human health. Still, it’s an exciting and very promising prospect. Just think, one day you could be able to grow your own cells for immune system support and energy production; essentially creating your own drug factory!