MARCH 3 2012 00:25h
Study: Toxins can affect generations
Washington State University molecular biologist Michael Skinner says that while the animal's DNA sequence remains unchanged, the compounds can change the way genes turn on and off, a so-called epigenetic effect.
While earlier research has shown such effects from a pesticides and fungicides, Skinner has found a greater variety of toxicants -- including jet fuel, dioxin, plastics and the pesticides DEET and permethrin -- can cause epigenetic disease across generations, a WSU release reported Friday.
"We didn't expect them all to have transgenerational effects, but all of them did," Skinner said.
The findings suggest the ability to cause transgenerational disease is "not simply a unique aspect for a unique compound" but a characteristic of many environmental compounds, he said.
Scientist may someday be able to identify and diagnose exposures through the use of specific epigenetic molecular markers, Skinner said.
"In the future we might be able to use these epigenetic biomarkers to determine your ancestral and personal exposure early in life and to predict your susceptibility to get a disease later in life."
PULLMAN, Wash., March 2 (UPI) -- A variety of environmental toxicants can have negative effects on not just an exposed animal but the next three generations of offspring, a U.S. scientist says.