Science and health

What do you know about your family tree? Have any of your relatives had health problems that tend to run in families? Which of these problems affected your parents or grandparents? Which ones affect you or your brothers or sisters now? Which problems might you pass on to your children?

We are driven by five genetic needs: survival, love and belonging, power, freedom, and fun.

A common theme throughout population biology is the importance of diversity. In natural environments, diversity in form and function allows populations to adapt to changing environments. Diversity can be observed and quantified in many ways: physically (e.g. body size, shape, color, etc), genetically, or behaviorally. This diversity is measured at several biological levels, including variation among populations, among individuals within populations, and also within individuals.

Genes and Chromosomes

Each person has a unique set of chemical blueprints that determines how his or her body looks and functions. These blueprints are contained in a complex chemical called deoxy-ribonucleic acid (DNA), a long, spiral-shaped molecule that's found inside each body cell. DNA carries the codes for genetic information and is made of linked subunits called nucleotides. Each nucleotide contains a phosphate molecule, a sugar molecule (deoxyribose), and one of four coding molecules called bases (adenine, guanine, cytosine, or thymine). The sequence of these four bases determines the genetic code.

Did you know?
Blood transfusions save lives - but they also put some patients at risk from transfusion associated graft-versus-host disease (TA-GVHD), a potentially lethal result of blood transfusions. Medical professionals recognize blood irradiation as the best way to reduce the threat of TA-GVHD. MDS Nordion manufactures several distinct lines of blood irradiators.

Future of health

Success in elucidating complex human diseases will more and more come to depend on the ability to fully incorporate the multivariate nature of disease and drug response through the use of genetic, mRNA expression, clinical, epidemiological and, if possible, proteomic and related molecular phenotype data. It should be noted that the central dogma dictates such an approach. This type of all-encompassing approach, which we refer to as ‘molecular profiling’, will rely on technologies associated with SNPs and whole-genome monitoring of transcript and protein abundances in target tissues.

Implementation of multiple new technologies will probably be necessary to incorporate proteomics and to facilitate the scaling-up of existing technologies to give them higher throughput. As discussed, the use of natural variation of gene expression, observed in segregating populations, can be used to determine the effect of changes in the expression of one gene on other genes and in piecing together cellular signalling pathways. In addition, work done in yeast has shown that the definitive analysis of cellular signalling pathways will often require the ability to modify protein expression and then analyse the resultant expression changes. In addition to the genetic methods described here, new methods using technologies to modify genes in mammalian cells such as siRNA will be critical in delineating the key roles suggested by genomic and proteomic approaches.

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