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You are what you eat

Created by paustian on Aug 1, 2013, 1:13 AM

 

Recent research done by scientists at the university of Massachusetts medical school (UMMS) shows that even the smallest bites of food can have a massive impact, by significantly changing gene expression, which could lead to an undesirable physiology and health outcome. Using special worms that are used normally as model organisms in genetic studies, the scientists observed how different diets cause differences in gene expression in the worms that could be interconnected to crucial physiological changes. The worms were exposed to a natural diet and a lab diet resulting in 87 changes in the worm’s gene expression. Shockingly these changes occurred in a gene program that determines development and growth in the worm.

These same regulators control circadian rhythm in humans. The disturbed gene expression accompanying the worms metabolism lead to metabolic imbalances that interfered the animals response, which is a result that could have a direct link to the treatment of a class of human genetic diseases. These discoveries imply the existence of a genetic regulatory network that enables rapid responses to internal physiological and external environmental signals in order to sustain a metabolic balance in the worm. Interestingly, a similar experience is involved in mutations that lead to inborn metabolic diseases in humans; classes of genetic diseases rising from defects in genes that code for enzymes which help transform nutrients into usable material in the cell. These diseases are usually treated by dietary interventions designed to avoid build-up of toxic material and supplement patients with metabolites that may be depleted.