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THE GENE Geme
THE GENE Geme
EPIGENETICS IS SET TO PLAY A MAJOR ROLE IN THE FUTURE OF THERAPEUTICS
Matthew Flynn
In 1928, Sir Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin and ushered in the era of modern antibiotics which allowed for the treatment of infections including gangrene, pneumonia, syphilis, and tuberculosis. In the century since, there has been significant progress in the healthcare sector — from the development of X-ray technology and chemotherapy to more recent advances that have led to the use of AI to develop pharmaceuticals. As new treatments for diseases continue to be explored and discovered, epigenetics is set to play an important role.

WHAT IS EPIGENETICS?

From its Greek roots, the word epigenetics means “in addition to” the genetic sequence. It refers to biological mechanisms that determine the expression of a gene, deciding whether the gene is active or dormant — essentially turning it on or off. The combination of genes that are turned on or off is what makes each person unique, even from his or her closest siblings.

Epigenetics is more than simply one’s inherited traits, it can also be seen as the compromise in the “nature vs. nurture” debate. Not only does epigenetics determine gene expression during fetal development and cell differentiation, it takes place throughout one’s life as genes are turned on or off based on environmental stimuli.

EPIGENETIC PROCESSES

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November 2019