Genetic diseases are passed from parent to child; diseases like cancer, mental illness, Huntington’s disease and others. But what if there was a way to lessen the impact to your children? Researchers at The Scripps Research Institute are studying the possibility!!
It’s all about epigenetics. Epigenetics is studying the effect of how outside forces like diet or environment can effect gene expression. In other words, can “pre-programming” (genes) be altered with outside forces?
First they looked at human cells to see how they would respond to a compound called HDACi 4b which effects DNA. The cells that were most effected were the male Y-chromosome cells.
Then, male mice with Huntington’s disease were given HDACi 4b for a month. These mice showed improvement in symptoms and the researchers wondered if offspring would benefit from this. So they introduced a female and nature took its course. Only the males appeared to have benefits from the HDACi 4b. Huntington’s disease showed up later, there was less impact on motor and cognitive abilities, and balance and memory tests were improved!