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Epigenetics: Medicine’s New Epicenter

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In the medical and scientific world, discoveries are constantly being made, answering the questions that the modern-day society has about the world as they know it. People in the late twentieth century have endeavored to find a way to decode and compare flawed genes to working ones, and to discover the hidden truths of “incurable” diseases, like cancer. The deeper they studied human genes, researchers still could not find a problem with the appearance of a malignant cell. There had to be an alternate solution to the problem. It was in the 1990s when the discovery of epigenetics revolutionized the medical research, and is still shaping the future for many modern medicines today.

In many ways, epigenetics affect the power to switch genes on and off. Epigenetics is affected by genetic factors, influenced from DNA sequence. Broadly speaking, epigenetics does not change the gene structure, but only the gene expression. It tells the DNA how, when, where, and how much to work. One method is through methylation, where a methyl molecule silences a gene by attaching itself onto it. Another way is by altering the way genes are bundled, by unwinding of DNA to loosen it. If the DNA is wound too tightly around the histones, or proteins, the body will be unable to read the genetic material. There is a possibility of receiving cancer if the gene concerns cell growth.

Epigenetics focus on the epigenome. There are basic differences between the human genome and the epigenome. The key difference is that the epigenome can be repaired, and the genome cannot. Because the epigenome can be repaired, the cure for cancer might not be far off. Dacogen, a demethylating agent, strip the methylation patterns in the genome, which allows the fire to burn itsel...

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...tic genes being different from environmental factors. The twin who develops this disorder is believed to have a lower methylation level, which sequentially leads to the over activity of genes. This low level is affected by environmental factors and possibly underlying DNA or genetic vulnerability, which can be extremely dangerous. However, changes in methylation do not change the genes’ genetic makeup.

Even in this world today, there have been plentiful of discoveries, many shocking and impressive. The discovery of epigenetics is said to be one of the biggest and most promising breakthroughs in modern medicine. There is still much mystery surrounding epigenetics, but there is a funding for epigenetic research that will hopefully allow researchers to learn and discover more about this enigma. This code of life is definitely more complex than we have ever imagined.
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