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My dream about the prevention of genetic conditions

nutrigenI think, after 2 and a half months of blogging, it’s time to tell you my dream. I’m nearly sure about that this dream wouldn’t come true in my lifetime. I dream about a total screening for genetic conditions and diseases. When you are born, your DNA is screened for well-known variations and gene abnormalities. These variations lead to increased risk for some kind of diseases. Now, I’m not talking about only monogenic disorders, but multifactural ones: heart disease, gout, some types of cancer.

A predictive gene test can determine if you have gene mutations that increase your chances of developing a disease. Why is it so important? Because you might not have any signs or symptoms of the disorder, but if you have a strong family history of a genetic condition, you might be at risk of developing that. And many of these problems could be treated (e.g. diet, physical activity…) in case the therapy is launched in time.

Recently, I’ve found 3 articles writing about developments in the field of genetic screening, I hope you’ll enjoy them:

Many thousands of people choose each year to test their early pregnancies for serious abnormalities of development. This new technology promises to make these tests, faster, more accurate and better targeted than current methods which have been in use for the past 30 years.

Scientists have successfully tested a technique for identifying newly recognized DNA variations that may influence disease risk. Rather than focus on errors and alterations in DNA sequence, the new technique highlights variations in the number of copies of a particular gene. Additional copies of a gene may lead to overproduction of that gene’s protein, and this may affect both easily identifiable traits such as body size or more difficult-to-discern traits such as cancer risk.

University of Leicester research into variations in the human genome which may have links with serious medical conditions, has received a highly-sought after international award…Professor Brookes said: “This is a much-appreciated and timely award. It will help create an important gene-disease database that will consolidate the ever-increasing flow of genetic discoveries in a way that has true global relevance for mankind’s health and well-being.

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. It’s a nice dream, but I’m not sure I agree with such aggressive genetic pruning.

    February 4, 2007
  2. Not just you, believe me! I’ve written about it in my Hungarian medical blog and many of the readers said they’re afraid of such a strong genetic testing. We have to find the balance somewhere between my and your point of view.

    February 4, 2007
  3. They’ll be tough questions to answer. In the first place, overaggressive pruning could have adverse effects on genetic diversity, especially if we pursue such purging without understanding the consequences and effects of all our genetic material.

    And, of course, the line between disease and unfavorable trait (and between unfavorable and favorable trait) is blurred.

    And finally, if we were to gain such ability without comparable advances in other fields, the result would be disastrous. Massive overpopulation would certainly put strains on food and water as well as other resources, starvation and poverty would lead to increased violent conflict, and the surge in number of humans would have catastrophic effects on the environment and its ability to support our preferred lifestyle. I would strongly hope that such advances do not take place in our lifetime, but rather once we’ve learned to control our numbers and our impact on the Earth better.

    If some alien species were to drop by and give us access to such genetic technology, the consequences would likely be very…unfortunate.

    February 5, 2007
  4. Jim #

    who is to say certain genetic variations should be screened out? What if certain mutation were to be beneficial to the person considering their context. E.g. sickle cell and its ironic function in protecting against malaria… though on second thoughts, what we can’t fight physiologically we can probably fight through new technological and medical innovations… I think this is definately an issue of interest that needs further discussion

    April 30, 2008

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  1. PTC124, a Drug Against Genetic Diseases: Overview « ScienceRoll

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