All somatic cells of a body have the same genome. But each of them can present a different gene expression profile depending on the epigenetic marks that, acting as molecular switches, activate or deactivate these sequences. These regulatory systems, globally known as the epigenome, include the chemical modification of the genetic fragments and the histones, or changes in the accessibility and make-up of the DNA.
In October 2011, an international consortium of scientists launched the project BLUEPRINT, an initiative backed by thirty million euros in funding from the European Commission. The goal was to determine how genes are activated or repressed; in other words, trace the epigenetic blueprint of blood cells. The secrets of the mechanisms that activate and repress gene expression are fundamental to understanding the appearance of certain pathologies related with blood cells, such as different types of cancer, diabetes or autoimmune diseases.
Perhaps one of the most famous paintings of Salvador Dalí is The Persistence of Memory, which the artist completed in 1931, conjuring up, with its "melting" watches, Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity. However, physics was not the only science that inspired the genius from Figueres.
Year 2000. Prior to the dawn of the 21st century, researchers Carlos Buesa and Tamara Maes decided to enter the business world by creating Oryzon Genomics, a spin-off of the Universitat de Barcelona and the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC). Their objective was simply to identify and validate genetic markers and proteins of medical benefit in the diagnosis and treatment of serious diseases.
This discovery has brought epigenetics, a discipline that is changing the way we understand biology, back into focus. In 2011, the bioentrepreneur and researcher Nessa Carey drew a curious comparison in her book The Epigenetics Revolution: