I had to go to Washington DC/Bethesda last week for a short conference.
I spent almost the entire time pooping, thanks to some food poisoning I got from a very expensive, universally recommended restaurant. YAY!!
Luckily I wasnt sick when Francis Collins was supposed to speak. But he had to cancel.
Still pooping, btw.
So while Im not leaving my bed and sucking down bottles of Powerade and Gatorade (its room temperature, I dont care, I feel like crap, get it, LOL!), I do have two links to pass along.
1– Though Collins bailed, I did get to see a very nice presentation on the basics of epigenetics from a gentleman from Harvard. He warned everyone right off the bat that if we did epigenetics research, the presentation was going to be below them, but I stayed anyway to see how he presented it. It was very nice, woo-free, basics of the science. Probably still way over a lay-audience, but I thought it was just perfect for a group of grad students/post docs/PIs from diverse fields.
One thing he brought up was this research Carl Zimmer just wrote about! Carl, as always, really gets what he is talking about, and tries to impart that to his audience. This last paragraph is friggen perfect:
The possibility that we can rewrite the epigenetic code in our brains may be exciting, but it is also daunting. Modifying epigenetic markers is not easy–and that’s a good thing. After all, if our methyl groups and coiling proteins were constantly shifting, depression would be the least of our problems. Nothing ruins your day like finding that your brain has turned into a pancreas.
Epigenetics is a new, confusing, complex field of research. We might ‘know’ that X modification of histones is associated with Y disease, but there is not much we can do about it, currently. And even if we think we might be able to do something about it, its like, popping a party balloon with a V2 rocket. Um, yeah, itll probably work, but its kinda overdoing things, and you still might cause more trouble than its worth, and you still might miss.
Lemme give you an example. Lets say we find out that in people with Ke$ha Disease, their GTiM (Good Taste in Music) gene is underexpressed due to hypermethylation of the surrounding DNA. So, YAY! Thats treatable! We have drugs that could fix that, like 5-aza-2′-deoxycytidine!
Um, well, your DNA is also methylated at lots of other positions for very good reasons. Like, keeping mobile and parasitic DNA silent.
Current epigenetic modifying compounds act globally. We cannot simply target the GTiM gene. Sooo… trade Ke$ha Disease for any kind of cancer or potentially another disease altogether?
Accidentally turn your brain into a pancreas?
This stuff is really hard, and Carl gets it.
2– While pooping or waiting to poop again, Ive kept my spirits up by reading this blag. I want to be angry that no one told me about this blag before the end of last week, but I really needed some cheering up RIGHT NOW, so it all worked out.