The Epigenetic Landscape
To build a complete picture of disease origin, epigenetics must be part of the equation
William Aryitey | | Longer Read
At a Glance
- Epigenetics is vital to building a complete picture of disease pathogenesis
- The field is young, but extensive research has elucidated its crucial importance in disease
- When investigating heritable or potentially heritable disease, it’s vital to consider epigenetics as well as genetics
- Only by studying epigenetics and gene-environment interactions can we fully understand, diagnose, and treat complex diseases
When it comes to investigating the origin of a disease, it’s common to first look into the realm of genetics – but a vital piece that can help us tackle complicated puzzles is often missing: epigenetics. Although still a relatively young field, research proving its significance in understanding disease origins has led to growing interest.
“Whole journals have sprung up on the issue of epigenetics,” says Andrew Feinberg, Professor at Johns Hopkins. “It’s a very young field, so there are many new things coming up, and people are still finding their way around and developing the best ways of investigating.” The development has been facilitated by big changes in technology and mathematics, fields in which Feinberg started his career. He believes that, even though rapid growth has led to teething problems (for example, incomplete information), there’s still a great deal of useful knowledge to be gained.
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