Stem Cells Could Reveal Secrets Of Illness In Later Life
Mums to be have known for some time that what they eat when pregnant affects their unborn child but now scientists believe that the diet of our mothers during pregnancy may even affect our predisposition to illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure in late life.

Studies with animals have shown a link between diet and the life long health of offspring but experiments with pregnant women or unborn children is clearly not possible. Researchers funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) have turned to embryonic human stem cells to provide the answers.

The scientists, led by Dr Lorraine Young at the University of Nottingham Division of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, are looking at the fundamental process of methylation. This is one of the ways that our bodies control which genes are working in which tissues and at what time by tagging some of our DNA with small chemical groups called methyl groups. The process is essential for controlling gene activity as an organism grows and develops into adulthood. Faults in this process are known to cause some rare developmental diseases but Dr Young's group now believes that a foetus' response to its mother's diet could affect this process as well, leading to changes in gene activity and therefore susceptibility to illness in later life.

Dr Young said, "We are trying to identify the primary factors
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...0110123945.htm



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