Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Genetic Testing - Brief Summary

Fascinating is the human genome project and services such as 23andme.  Do we want to know that we have a genetic mutation that predicts Alzheimer's disease, cancers, asthma, obesity, diabetes, etc.?

Genetic testing is the process of having your DNA sequenced and associating your DNA sequence with possible health outcomes.  Genetic testing can predict possible health outcomes for you and your children.

DNA consists of 4 bases: G, A, T, and C. Your entire genetic makeup (your genome) consists of 3,000,000,000 base pairs in a specific order.  All of us are 99.5% identical at the DNA level.  That, of course, means we are unalike related to 150,000,000 base pairs.

As we inherit gene combinations from our parents, and as they are mapped, simple genetic diseases become predictable. But most human traits are multi-factorial. That is, most traits, including many chronic diseases, are the end result of multiple factors. These factors are be both genetic and environment (nature and nurture).

The relative impact of genetic versus environmental factors varies in each case, making many diseases hard to predict from genetic information  Each disease may have both positive and negative genetic inputs: the balance a of your personal genetics, in addition to environmental factors, ultimately determine your risk of disease.

We now know genetic risk factors for many diseases including Alzheimer's, cancers, asthma, stroke, obesity, diabetes, and others. I encourage you to read about 23andme and learn more.  We are just beginning to understand many of the genetic inputs into human disease, but the science has progressed amazing fast due to technology enhancements, and the benefits to managing health outcomes related to what we learn can be huge.

......Another fascinating Elon University Life-Long Learning Class, presented by Elon Professor Dave Parker, PhD., Biochemist and Applied Molecular Biologist (University of Manchester (UK),  University of Michigan, and Duke University).  


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