Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

The Epigenetic Inheritance

There's the genome and then there is the epigenome. Russell Brandom writes at the Verge that the role of the epigenome in inheritance is increasingly fascinating researchers.

"[T]hese studies are having a profound impact on how scientists look at biological inheritance and pointing the way towards new ways of thinking about our bodies, particularly for inherited factors like obesity or cancer risk," he writes. "Instead of a permanent code, what if your body's data is written in pencil?"

For instance, he notes that mothers who have undergone bariatric surgery had children who were at lower risk of becoming obese, despite their genetics remaining the same. Additionally, a mouse study showed that parents who were conditioned to be afraid of a certain smell passed that fear on their pups, even if the parents weren't around to teach that fear to their offspring. He adds that children of human parents with PTSD have lower levels of stress-response hormomes." What if those stressful experiences are leaving epigenetic markers, passed down from parent to child?" Brandom says.

How this all may work isn't yet clear. "We still don't really understand how experience can create these marks," McGill University's Moshe Szyf tells him. "It's not so easy to find out. But we understand that there are changes."

The Scan

Unwrapping Mummies' Faces

LiveScience reports that Parabon NanoLabs researchers have reconstructed how three Egyptian mummies may have looked.

Study on Hold

The Spectrum 10K study has been put on hold due to a backlash, leading the researchers to conduct consultations with the autism community, Nature News reports.

Others Out There Already

Reuters reports that Sanofi is no longer developing an mRNA-based vaccine for SARS-CoV-2.

PNAS Papers on GWAS False Discovery, PRAMEF2 Role in Tumorigenesis, RNA Virus Reverse Genetics

In PNAS this week: strategy to account for GWAS false-discovery rates, role of PRAMEF2 in cancer development, and more.