Friday, July 28, 2006

 

New theory of environmental inheritance ('05 Press Release)

New research has provided evidence for 'environmental inheritance', a radical theory of transgenerational genetic adaptation proposed by Professor Marcus Pembrey of the Institute of Child Health, UCL in the mid 1990's

The latest evidence challenges accepted thinking on genetic inheritance, suggesting that historic events can contribute to some common modern illnesses.

The research, published by the Children of the 90s study based at the University of Bristol in collaboration with Umea University, Sweden, could have far-reaching implications for our understanding of modern health epidemics - such as obesity or cardiovascular disease.

Conventionally scientists believe that how we develop as adults depends on two factors - the genes (DNA) we inherit from our parents, and the environmental influences, such as diet, lifestyle, exposure to pollution from conception onwards.

Professor Marcus Pembrey, who is also head of Genetics at Children of the 90s, says that over the long term, the process of Darwinian evolution by random errors in DNA followed by natural selection ensures that the human race adapts to changes in our environment. But it takes very many generations.

Now there is evidence for another mechanism which no-one had considered... some of the father's own experiences in his childhood are captured in some way by his sperm, so affecting the genes that he bequeaths to his descendants.

[NB Although this is only a press release I've got at least one relevant technical paper which I'll be posting soon - when I find it!]

14th December 2005

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Comments:
Environmental stress may produce some proteins that passed to the offspring from the mother or father in their germ cells. Those proteins may be increased in the offspring or not, but they may contribute to increased the possibility of genetic changes in them, so that evolution could occur.
 
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