Essay about Epigenetics Scientific Article
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Epigenetics Scientific Article
Summary of the Article
Epigenetic transgenerational inheritance by Hanson and Skinner (2016)
The article examines the role that the changes in germline play in epigenetic transgenerational inheritance. Hanson and Skinner (2016) reckon that the exposure of a germ cell to introduce some changes in a progeny is very important. However, the ability to produce enduring epigenetic changes in the same cells may have a massive effect on biology, etiology of diseases and development. In other words, environmental aspects and toxic substances cannot in any way alter the structure of the DNA or trigger genetic alterations directly. However, several of the ecological aspects have the ability to cause anomalous prototype or rather escalate the risks of contracting a disease. Therefore, exposure to ecological factors and toxins during the early stages of growth can, however, heighten the risks of diseases because of a weakened immune system. The effects of environmental factors on the phenotypes and increased prevalence of diseases lacks a direct interconnection with classical genetic structures. However, the epigenetic structures that have the ability to affect the phenotype from one age bracket to the other are very pivotal (Hanson & Skinner, 2016).
The epigenetic takes into account the following mechanisms; the methylation of DNA, histone alterations, the ribonucleic acid molecules (ncRNAs) and lastly the chromatic composition. Some of the ecological exposures that can generate a direct effect on epigenetic processes entail nutrition, temperature, and toxic substances. Indeed, most of these ecological exposures can cause a direct effect on the somatic cells of particular tissues, particularly during the early stages of development. Although the impacts on the somatic cells may generate striking consequences, they rarely possess the ability to pass the phenotype transgenerationally. Therefore, germline is the only one capable of transmitting inherited information from one generation to the other. This is why the germ cell modifications are important in transmitting molecular information from one generation to the other. Most of the recent research studies have unveiled that since ecological exposures can modify the germline epigenetics, they are also capable of causing a transgenerational phenotype. Hanson and Skinner (2016) define epigenetic transgenerational inheritance as the transmission of ecologically-induced phenotypes that are heritable. As such, such phenotypes are capable of transmitting risk of infections from one generation to the next, particularly if the ecological exposures are absent. But, with epigenetic modification of a germ cell, it is possible to transmit ecologically induced phenotypes from one generation to the other (Hanson & Skinner, 2016).
Thoughts and Reactions
The article has affirmed that there exists a strong link between epigenetic alterations and diseases or rather health conditions. Furthermore, the authors have unveiled that the link implies that some environmental factors, such as nutrition aspects among others are capable of affecting the epigenetic makeup and induce disease. The risk of contracting some of the fatal health conditions, such as cancer, depends on hereditary factors, lifestyle as well as the surrounding circumstances. As unveiled from the article, the epigenetic alteration is all about changing the chemical makeup of the DNA that usually turns genes on and off. However, there is something important that the authors of the article failed to mention in their study (Hanson & Skinner, 2016). Epigenetic alterations occur primarily because of responding to a given health condition or disease rather than being perceived as a common causal risk factor.
In the modern times, the existing environment and lifestyle changes can contribute to epigenetic alterations and heighten the risks of acquiring a disease. Some of the known health conditions, such as myocardial infarction, Asthmatic conditions, schizophrenia, and Rheumatism are as a result of epigenetic alterations. However, it is still unclear whether such epigenetic alterations are what cause some of these ailments or they occur in response to these diseases or whether external factors are what cause them. However, irrespective of whether a person may bring into perspective several conflicting ideas about the real cause of epigenetic alterations, external factors as a result of genetic changes are the primary cause.
For example, a smoking habit is likely to affect the epigenetic structure as well as the biomarkers of different diseases. In such a case, most researchers will interpret that the epigenetic alterations are the primary cause o of a disease, yet the causal factor is actually smoking. This is an important factor or rather issue that most researchers are failing to disclose. In the same vein, genetic alterations could affect the epigenetic makeup and biomarkers of numerous diseases. Yet, there is a paucity of evidence that indicates the possibility of epigenetic alterations increasing the risks of developing a given health condition. In this respect, it is important for the researchers to further their analysis by affirming the roles that epigenetic alterations play in determining the pathogenesis of diseases. In other words, epigenetic alterations should be perceived as a biomarker of different environmental exposures instead of the primary cause of diseases (Hanson & Skinner, 2016).
Consequently, the treatment of different diseases and health conditions may also change because of epigenetic alterations. Since epigenome seems to determine the behavior of genes, there is a possibility of treating a faulty epigenome like a mutation. Such a perception may eventually heighten the risks for certain diseases like cancer even in situations where the epigenome underneath the genes is faultless. If there is any possibility of learning about the cause of epigenetic slipups, then scientists and medical practitioners can introduce drugs and treatments capable of manipulating methylation mechanisms that cause the faults and eventually coming up with a proper treatment of several diseases including cancer and others.
Lastly, Epigenetic also brings into perspective ethical issues pertaining to privacy and discretion. Upon diagnosis, medical practitioners are capable of sharing sizeable information about the possibility of a parent transmitting a given health condition to their children. The use of emerging technologies in the healthcare setup, such as the electronic health records heightens the possibility of losing patient’s private information to unauthorized persons. Indeed, most of the laws and regulations relating to genetics, particularly from the USA lack provisions for protecting misuse or loss of epigenetic information. For this reason, there is a need to enact privacy regulations to safeguard such sensitive data from malicious persons.
In addition, it is also of utmost significance to address equity in accessing health care services. People should understand the connections between ecological exposures and effects of epigenetics to promote the importance of affected persons from obtaining services related to prevention and treatment. It is regrettable that people vulnerable to environmental exposure are least expected to access proper and quality care. There is need to provide health coverage for the complex new medical tests purposed to identify the existence, and ultimately offer treatment that can reverse epigenetic changes (Hanson & Skinner, 2016).Reference
Hanson, M.A., Skinner, M.K (2016). Developmental origins of epigenetic transgenerational inheritance. Environmental Epigenetics, 2(1)1. Retrieved from: https://academic.oup.com/eep/article/2/1/dvw002/2464897