Building Better Bodies By Turning Genes On And Off

Ever since the unravelling of the human genome in 2003, the genetic information has been used in many ways. It has been applied in forensics, clinical genetics, pharmacology and other disciplines.

However, this knowledge also opens up the very interesting possibility of modifying the genetic composition of humans to achieve some benefits. Not all genetic information is expressed in the complete organism. A lot of the information is repressed through a process known as gene regulation. This is done by turning off the inferior genes during transcription, and by the influence of other repressor proteins and endogenous hormones.

Researchers are optimistic that this process can be modified artificially. As our knowledge of the human genome continues to grow, inferior genes responsible for various human diseases can be targeted and selectively repressed.

Various chemicals are known to have an effect on gene regulation. Drugs that affect gene regulation are currently undergoing trials in some major pharmaceutical companies. These drugs offer the promise of acting effectively in the therapy of various leukaemias, lymphomas and other cancers.

It is also possible to modify gene regulation through a knockout process during embryonic development. This results in the repression of particular genes responsible for some diseases or undesirable characteristics.

It is envisaged that genetic diseases, like neurofibromatosis, polycystic kidney disease, marfans syndrome, acute intermittent porphyrias and others may be eliminated through this way. This process could also modify multifactorial conditions, like  diabetes mellitus, essential hypertension and gout. Moreover, some cytogenetic disorders can be eliminated in the future.

With our ongoing understanding of the human genome, a lot of exciting new prospects now exist in medical science. So, it is very possible that the elimination of many diseases and the widespread improvement of the human race can be achieved.

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Rajat Chakraborty Written by: