September 28, 2012

Epigenetics: Marrying genetics and environment in autism research?

“Genetics vs. Environment”

Paul Whiteley Ph.D.

Funny how these few simple words can create so much tension. Down the years just about every area of health and disease has witnessed the grudge match that is nature or nurture. Obesity: food intake, or differences in the genes controlling how energy is used and stored? Heart disease: poor lifestyle choices, or genetic differences in our navigation of modern living? The list goes on and on and on in this often polarized debate.

Autism has, and continues, to have its own genes vs. environment debate. Indeed this debate has, perhaps above all others, contributed to quite a lot of the heated discussions in autism circles down the years on what is and isn’t autism in terms of aetiology and pathology. “It’s genetic,” say the twin studies. “No its not,” say the environmental camp, the two extremes sandwiched between various shades of gene-environment interactions in-between.

In this post, I want to talk about another player in the genes / environment arena – epigenetics – an area which might provide an olive branch between the two heavyweights, where foes might even become friends. READ MORE >>

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