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How innovation is driving the way we see our genes

Scientific and technological advancement in the past decade has resulted in exceptional progress in the field of genetics. The sequencing of the human genome was both a starting point and a high point for more breakthroughs.

Innovation in molecular genetics has really propelled the genetic field. It has led to advancement in the domain associated with inherited diseases, cancer, personalised medicine, genetic counselling, gene therapy, and gene editing.

The role of genetics in our health and well-being has revolutionised approaches to healthcare and precision medicine. The transformative innovations have opened new doors to healthcare providers who are beginning to leverage emerging technologies to optimise treatment outcomes.

Revolutionary tests like Genes2Health and Genes2Fit are actually helping people understand their own genetic makeup and optimise their lifestyle to live a healthier life.

Let us see how innovation has improved our understanding of genetics in our lives.

Inherited diseases

Molecular genetics has primarily been used to identify specifically which genes are implicated in specific diseases. For single-gene disorders, scientists have discovered mutations in hundreds of genes.

However, innovation has led to determining which genes contribute to multifactorial conditions like obesity, neurological disorders, heart disease, alcohol dependency, schizophrenia, and autism.

This helps individuals uncover any genetic predisposition or acquired genomic health risk that may get into the way to live your optimal life.

A personalised genetic details on predisposition to several health conditions combined with early treatment strategies can help you delay the symptoms or prevent it altogether.

Cancer, personalised medicine, and genetic counseling

Everybody is different and unique. Hence, everyone responds to treatments differently. The traditional practice of the “one-size fit all” approach often misses its mark because each person’s genetic makeup is different.

Rapid and economical genome sequencing combined with human DNA sequence data analytics, linked with disease risk and high-speed informatics, have made personalised medicine and customised genetic counselling possible.

Innovation has been behind the idea of precision medicine-where health care is tailor-made to each person’s unique genetic makeup.

The growing understanding of genetics and genomics have facilitated the accurate diagnosis of disease, disease prevention, safer drug prescriptions and more effective treatments that may impact our health.

Many companies have begun to offer direct-to-consumer marketing of genomic sequencing and analysis to provide prior knowledge of increased risk. If a risk is caught early, it can be prevented with increased surveillance and preventive strategies.

Gene Therapy 

Gene therapy involves replacing a faulty gene or adding a new gene in an attempt to cure disease or improve your body’s ability to fight disease. Gene therapy is a promising genetic advancement for treating various diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, cystic fibrosis, diabetes, and haemophilia.

Currently, we are witnessing the new era of treatment for genetic diseases using gene and cell therapies. Some of these gene therapies are one-time, potentially curative investigational therapies that may turn out to be life-changing to many people.

Various innovations in DNA sequencing, molecular cloning, molecular genetics and cell biology have provided us with sufficient knowledge of the basis for disease and the genes to target.

Gene editing with CRISPR

Many diseases occur due to a defective gene product (not a complete absence from the product). For instance, cystic fibrosis and sickle cell disease are both linked with abnormal proteins. In such cases, a patient’s own gene is edited rather than replaced.

CRISPR technology is one of the simple but powerful tools for editing genomes. With the help of this technology, researchers can easily alter the DNA sequences and modify gene function. The many potential benefits of CRISPR include correcting genetic defects, prevention and treating the spread of diseases and modifying agriculture products.

But while the currenrt gene-editing prowess has been revolutionary, we still have a long way to go in making changes to a genome simultaneously. If we could develop this capability, we would significantly reduce the decrease of time it takes to modify organisms.   

DNA Synthesis

Scientists have made it possible to cheaply “print” DNA for insertion into a cell in the past few years. That means a scientist who requires a particular DNA sequence for research can create their own DNA sequence from a lab.

DNA synthesis is like a niche technology and is helpful for an astonishing variety of research uses. This genetic technology could have far-reaching implications for how we live. Thanks to DNA synthesis, tons of critically important, valuable biology research has been made possible.

The Way Forward

Rapid advances in gene-editing technology and DNA sequencing mean that we now are indeed in the age of genomics. Genetic testing companies can provide you with a detailed rundown of your ancestry and your genetic predisposition to a host of diseases for a fraction of the cost.

Of course, we still have a lot to learn about our genes and how they impact our health. But there are more studies about how we can use that information to treat disease and improve lives. Though it might take years to revolutionise the best practices, the progress that we have made so far in genetics is incredible.

Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YS.)

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