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Genetic breakthrough offers promise for ME, Fibromyalgia
Friday 26 October 2012
Here are some known things that may trigger Myalgic Encephalomyelitis and Fibromyalgia: bacterial infections, viral infections, fungal infections, parasitic infections, chemical exposure, surgery, and stressful events such as an automobile accident.
That is quite a few triggers, and as you can imagine, based on this almost everyone in the world should have one of these diseases. But they don't.
Why is it that some people get Fibromyalgia or ME when the vast majority of people do not? And why, after decades of research, haven’t medical researchers discovered what these diseases are, what causes them, and why they generally last for life?
I believe we are on the eve of learning that ME and Fibromyalgia are caused by damaged DNA, and more specifically, the DNA in our cells that controls the genes - the epigenetic regions of the chromosomes, which is the DNA directly above and below each of our 21,000 genes. Until only recently, science has lacked the tools to understand these 'epigenes', and how they - and not the genes - may be responsible for countless diseases including Fibromyalgia and ME.
While those 21,000 genes take up space on our DNA chromosomes, the fact is that 98% of our genetic material is not composed of genes - it is composed of what scientist had previously called ‘junk DNA.’ They called it ‘junk’ because they did not know it had any biological function.
Now scientists have learned that this epigenetic DNA is actually the ‘brains’ of genes, and this DNA is actually the stuff that controls whether the genes are turned on or off.
The study of this ‘junk’ DNA is called epigenetics, and it is the hottest thing in the science of genetics since the discovery of genes themselves.
This is exciting for patients, because if the mechanism that controls the genes isn't functioning correctly, an organism cannot live the way it was designed to live, and a permanent dis-equilibrium can take place in the form of a chronic disease such as Fibromyalgia or ME.
This epigenetic ‘software’ that controls our genes - the ‘hardware’, which in turn control everything about us; what we look like, who we are, and how our body responds to the environment - can tell us a great deal about many of the remaining mysteries of the human body.
As we now know, having our genes turn on and off at exactly the right times is a big deal when it comes to how our bodies handle everything, from pathogens to stresses of life. If an organism doesn't have an appropriate immune response to a pathogen or some other stressor because of faulty gene expression, the organism could die, malfunction, or suffer from a chronic disease.
Leading ME researchers are turning their attention to epigenetics, and I believe it is here that we will find the answers to the mysteries of ME, Fibromyalgia, and other neuro-immune diseases. Research in this area has already started, and numerous gene function abnormalities have already been discovered in ME.
If I may offer an optimistic perspective on the miserable way the government and medical world have perceived and scientifically pursued ME and Fibromyalgia, consider this: It is possible that medical science has not had the knowledge or tools necessary to even begin to understand how and why these diseases exist until just the last few years, because the answer could only be found in something they’d never imagined - our damaged genetic software; our 'junk DNA'.
If this is the case, the answers could not have been found until now, because the tools researchers had in their arsenal were too crude and too primitive to delve into the complexities of the genetic malfunctions that may cause ME and Fibromyalgia.
It may be that only now, with the powerful new technology driving the science called epigenetics (and its sister science, proteomics, which measures the activity of genes), that we can finally begin to understand what ME and Fibromyalgia are, why they exist, and how they can be treated and cured.
I believe this new science will lead to a cure for ME, Fibromyalgia, and other diseases including many cancers.
Take a moment to learn more about epigenetics and the potential it may offer ME, Fibromyalgia, Lyme disease, Autism, and a host of other neuro-immune diseases. A great place to start is with the articles and videos below.
What is your opinion? Please let me and others know what you think about epigenetics' potential to solve Myalgic Encephalomyelitis and Fibromyalgia.
Time Magazine article: “Junk DNA – Not So Useless After All”
New York Times article: “Bits of Mystery DNA, Far From ‘Junk,’ Play Crucial Role”
Lively, informative video: “Epigenetics”
Dr. David Crews video: “Interview with author of Epigenetic Transgenerational Inheritance Paper”
The above, with comments, originally appeared here.
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