Chief Science Correspondent
Epigenetic changes associated with the progresion of cervical cancer could be used in diagnostic screenings, according to a recent study conducted by University of California Irvine professor Mina Kalantari.
Traditionally, our DNA code stores information that directs the production of RNA, which is translated into different proteins that perform a variety of biological functions.
However, sometimes this process does not take place. In epigenetic silencing, certain DNA bases are inhibited through a process called methylation at certain regions, known as CpG islands. The mRNA is not transcribed, and the gene is not expressed.
Methylation can be induced by environmental factors, including stress, diet and chemical exposure. What makes epigenetics so critical is that, in some cases, this silencing is passed through generations.
Some studies have found that epigenetic modifications, including changes that cause cancer, could actually be passed from parent to offspring.