Epigenetic analysis from blood spots
Keeping with the theme of our show, our other news stories are focused on epigenetics. Scientists led by Dr Vardhman Rakyan at Queen Mary, University of London, have shown that purified DNA from Guthrie cards - the filter papers used to collect tiny spots of newborn blood - could reveal important information about the epigenetic state of the child's genome, as well as just their genes. Writing in the journal Genome Research, the scientists analysed the epigenetic state of samples of DNA from Guthrie cards and compared it to fresh DNA, finding that it was a reliable match.
The small blood spots on Guthrie cards are used to test for important diseases such as phenylketonuria and cystic fibrosis. But as scientists find out more about the role of epigenetics in disease, being able to retrospectively analyse these samples could be a vital tool in helping to predict the risk of diseases such as cancer, heart diseases and diabetes, as well as helping researchers to understand what's going on as these conditions develop.