Heather Williams asked:
Can we train our phenotype by altering our epigenetics? Could we potentially modulate the expression of genes that are related to an increase cancer risk, for instance our BRCA 1 and 2 genes that cause breast cancer?
Mark - If I understand the question correctly, is there ways and means by which we can modulate whether a gene turns on or off at a particular time? In theory, this is possible because the epigenome or these various modifications that control whether a gene gets turned on or off as you’ve been talking about are reversible. These are not static entities, so in theory, we may be able to fine tune in the future. We’re not there yet, but we may be able to do this in the future.
As I understand it, BRCA1 & BRCA2 were discovered because they produce DNA repair proteins; mutated versions of these genes are much less effective at repairing DNA errors than the normal protein, and lead to an increased risk of BReast CAncer.