Epigenetic Punctuation

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Epigenetics: The Punctuation of Genes The discovery of DNA in the early 1950s lead to a number of assumptions by scientists. The first being that DNA is an information centre and carries genetic information that controls all the biological processes in the body including growth and development. But only in the recently in 1996, a mechanism that controlled the ultimate control centre which is DNA was found. It was called Epigenetics meaning “change in genes”. Over the past few years epigenetics has been found to be a positive and negative influence on human growth and development

The Epigenome is essentially what controls genes and instructs the DNA on what to do. It is mainly comprised of proteins and various chemical group and has the
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Researchers have discovered that epigenetics plays a huge role in certain disease. The field is very new, still growing and little understood on why epigenetic marks spontaneously decide to turn off or on gene expression. Feinberg and Vogelstein first discovered that the unhealthy tumour cells of patients with cancer had less methylation than patients who had normal health cells. As mentioned methylation results in turning off of gene expression. In cancer cells there are promoter regions where free methylation occurs and genes that should not be turned off are turned on. This epigenetic change results in tumours rapidly growing which is an offset for cancer. It is important to note that the methylation doesn’t change the sequence of DNA but rather cause a mechanism for mutations to happen. There is an increase in changes of epigenetics as one grows older which increases the chances of certain diseases such as cancer and diabetes. Mental retardation and epigenetics are also linked Epigenetic change can lead to the mutation of the FMR1 gene which controls cognitive functions. Fragile X syndrome is characterised by impaired cognition and autism. It mostly occurs in males with one X chromosomes but can occur in females as well. Scientist have linked very few diseases with epigenetic alteration and changes. These include: Obesity, Cancer, and…show more content…
Apes and humans share 90 percent of DNA and the sequence of genes are almost identical but the methylation of these genes is what separates the two species in their intellectual abilities and their phenotype. This is proved by evolution theory of Punctuated equilibrium in which periods of stasis alternate with a rapid significant change often due to rare environmental factors such as mass extinction caused to meteoric activity. The epigenome has led to the adaptability of human population and its growth. The survival of the fittest individuals of the population through natural selections allow the epigenome to be passed down from generation to generation allowing the population to thrive in the environment. This allows for variation in species and a better way to cope with changes and stresses in the environment
In conclusion, Epigenetics is a double edged sword. It has both positive aspects that have helped the human population survive and grow but it has also has caused disease and unstable DNA. With this knowledge, Scientists are testing the possible of artificially modifying the epigenome through gene therapy. This can cure diseases such as cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s and creating a new human population that is able to adapt to various environmental
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