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Honors Bio: Epigenetics

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John Rutledge

on 7 March 2011

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Transcript of Honors Bio: Epigenetics

Epigenetics Epigenetic changes represent a biological response to an evironmental pressure. Sporadic diet in Northern Sweden.
Dumb mice passing on improved intelligence to their offspring.
Smoking at a young age when sperm is forming makes one's children more susceptible to obesity. Lamarck vs Darwin Epigenetic traits are heritable when changes are made in the activation of DNA in the sperm or the egg. Genetic changes take place over millions of years of natural selection. Some traits can be acquired in one's lifetime due to environmental factors. The Future? A world in which we can tinker with DNA, changing how it expresses itself. God and Ethics in Epigenetics Good: Screening for and curing diseases. (e.g. cancer, mental illness, hereditary diseases)
Knowledge of epigenetics may improve the lifestyle of future parents
Intrinsic good of knowledge Bad: Redeemed: Food for Thought: Potential for unethical profit.
Questionable ethics of technology and experimentation on humans.
Epigenetics will highlight social inequalities and could lead to discrimination. Can sin be inherited through epigenetics? (Many Christian groups seem to think so)
Disease is being pushed back. Through epigenetics, we are, in a sense, minimizing the consequences of the Fall.
With this knowledge comes a degree of responsibility. Our capacity for good and bad are both increased.
Should women be prevented from working in late stages of pregnancy in order to prevent problems in future generations caused by stress and other epigenetic factors.
Are we trying to make ourselves “gods” by customizing who we are or who our children will become? Is this redemptive?
How mindful should we be about how our current lifestyle affects the generations that will follow us? Could epigenetics be overdone? Is it possible that something could go wrong as parents try to make awesome babies? “With some 30,000 genes in the human genome, the importance of silence, as with any orchestral performance, must not be underestimated” - Brona McVittie 2 Primary Methods:
Spatial arrangement of DNA
Biochemical tagging DNA Methylation Modification of histone amino acids How are these traits passed on?
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