DNA Mechanics Information MyHappyGenes

Genome Research Changing Medical History

In recent years, there has been an increased focus on health. As genome research continues, new studies could change the course of medical history. 

Nearly twenty United States war veterans commit suicide daily. This means that fifteen percent of the total cases of suicide in the United States are our veterans. This extremely high and alarming number has led to a deeper look at veterans health and potential mental issues. 

After recent studies, the American Department of Veteran Affairs has learned more as to why this number is so extreme and disproportionately high. They found that while trauma is definitely involved, genetics also play an important role. 

The American Department of Veteran Affairs studied approximately 200,000 veterans and found that many of them were actually susceptible to issues like depression and anxiety before they were sent to war zones in the middle east and elsewhere. 

Through this genome research, they found the issues were related to the MAD1C1 gene. This gene is also linked with schizophrenia and bipolar disease. Additionally, they found that there were five other genetic variants that were also connected to anxiety and were clearly more common in this group. 

The knowledge gained from this study and genome research is vital to the health of our veterans. This information allows the military to identify which individuals should not go to war as well as help prevent suicide by identifying individuals that are more susceptible to depression, anxiety, and suicidal tendencies. 

This is also important as the 200,000 participant study is the largest genome research study on anxiety in the world. While this research study is extremely impressive, there are similar studies now being conducted in laboratories throughout the world. 

Another large scale genome research study was recently conducted on insomnia. This study utilized 1.3 million people. In this study, 956 genes were identified and linked to insomnia. Researchers believe that these genes may offer a solution to insomnia which nearly one third of the population suffers from. This study is also crucial to mental health and medical history as insomnia has been linked to a variety of mental health issues, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.  

These genome research studies are being conducted across the world as part of the Genome-Wide Association Studies, from New York to Melbourne and Cape Town to Oslo. Since the Human Genome Project was completed in 2003, researchers have been able to examine genetic contributions and connections to common diseases. 

Before the human genome was mapped, the only way researchers could examine the roles of genes and health were through family studies. While these studies were successful in identifying single gene disorders, researchers were not able to look into anything more complicated. 

However, after scientists broke down the human genome in 2003, Biobanks began to expand across the world. Currently, there are more than forty-five Biobanks in the NSW alone. The largest Biobank is currently in the southern hemisphere at the RPA in Camperdown. 

The Camperdown Biobank is controlled by NSW Health and houses more than three million human samples to be used for research. These samples typically come from left-over tissue from operations, blood tests, and biopsies. All of the samples are donated with formal written consent. Researchers apply for access to the samples to use them in examinations and studies. They are able to use these samples to investigate illnesses on a much larger scale than ever possible before. 

The majority of these studies are based on a control group and one group of people with the illness that scientists are choosing to investigate. Since the Biobanks provide a multitude of samples, scientists are able to investigate illinessess on an extensive amount of populations. While the focus is always on finding genes that are associated with a specific disease, having such a wide range of samples and no hypothesis provides researchers with a wide array of possible outcomes. 

After researchers identify the genes that they believe are responsible or connect to a specific disease, they can then look closer at the results and illnesses. These detailed studies allow researchers to know more about the diseases and illnesses much quicker than in the past. This also allows scientists to begin creating more personalized medicines and treatments.

Researchers hope that the future of medicine will be based on these personalized medical treatment plans as opposed to the common one size fits all approach that currently exists. For example, chemotherapy may not be the best treatment option for every cancer patient. 

Individualized treatments would be able to be tailored for each patient as medical professionals would have more knowledge of the patients’ genetics. This would allow them to create treatments that are more targeted for each patient. In addition to treatments, this individualized knowledge would also provide more detailed information for the prevention of illnesses before the patient is even diagnosed. More individualized treatments and preventative measures would also help lessen adverse reactions to treatments as well as less mistakes. 

While these advancements in genome research are changing medical history, there are some limitations. For example, everything can not be explained by looking at  genes. Since each person responds differently to diseases, treatments are still a complicated issue. 

One of the other issues that Biobanks are faced with is that the majority of their samples are typically white Westerners. This limited variety restricts much of the current research as scientists aren’t able to examine as many genes from other races and regions. 

Additionally, genome sequencing is still extremely costly and knowing which genes are associated with a specific disease is just the beginning. After identifying the genes, scientists must still conduct further research on new diagnostics, drugs, and preventative measures. 

Although these issues may limit research, there have still been over three thousand Genome-Wide Association studies on almost two thousand different diseases. From these studies, we now have much more information regarding diseases and health issues. For example, we now know what causes heart attacks as researches found a protein that is involved in producing macular degeneration. 

Medical professionals can also identify genes that are related to risky behaviors, such as smoking, drinking, having high-risk sex, and reckless and fast driving. Through this genome research scientists have also found genes that are linked to childhood aggression, schizophrenia, intelligence, obesity, depression,  antisocial behavior, and a multitude of other things. 

In addition to these findings and research, there are also Biobanks in NSW which specialize in stroke, melanoma, childhood cancer, sleep, gynaecological problems, and issues with the brain. While these advancements may seem alarmingly futuristic, the possibilities are never ending. New genome research provides hope for sick individuals as well as limitless preventative measures.