Just because you have a predisposing gene—or several—may not mean you get the disease
|August 1, 2013||Posted by News under Epigenetics, Genomics, News|
Usually. But what does?
Maybe genes are a bit like politics. That is, pundits claim they know exactly why this person or that was elected, but many of their predictions are wrong. They’re wrong because there were other factors of whose existence they were unaware or whose effects they misread. And maybe so with genes’ role in disease.
The body is as complex as the body politic, arguably more. (Hard to say, really, because the one is concrete and the other is abstract.) So, it is heartening to read about new methodologies:
DNA is the blueprint according to which our body is constructed and functions. Cells “read” this blueprint by transcribing the information into RNA, which is then used as a template to construct proteins — the body’s building blocks. Genes are scanned based on the association of their RNA with ribosomes — particles in which protein synthesis takes place.
It’s not whether it exists, but whether its existence makes any difference in the long run.
“Until now, researchers have been focusing on the effects of disease-associated genomic variants on DNA-to-RNA transcription, instead of the challenging question of effects on RNA-to-protein translation,” says Dr. Polychronakos. “Thanks to this methodology, we can now better understand the effect of genetic variants on translation of RNA to protein — a powerful way of developing biomarkers for personalized medicine and new therapies.”
The chief evil of eugenics and related destructive social trends was the pretense that there were genes-for-this and genes-for-that, which is not really how life works. It will be much different when the doctor can say to a patient: Your personal profile suggests a higher than average risk for early onset arthritis if you do thus-and-such instead of so-and-so. And then leave it with the patient. At that point, it is all personal and voluntary – people taking charge of their own health, not the government saying who has a right to live.