Understanding DNA has helped science make major strides in understanding and treating disease.
But “we [still] can’t explain most of the variability leading to most human disease,” said Andrew Feinberg, MD, MPH, director of the Center for Epigenetics at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Changes in the genetic code explain only about 20% of disease risk, noted Feinberg, who presented a State-of-the-Art lecture at Kidney Week 2017.
Epigenetic studies may help unravel how the environment and gene–environment interactions contribute to that remaining disease risk. Already there is emerging evidence that epigenetic changes may contribute to kidney disease. Feinberg and others in the field are optimistic that further study of the role that these epigenetic changes play in the development of kidney disease and other ailments may lead to new treatments.