Your genes make you YOU
We are all unique with different looks, heights and shades. Taking a step further, all living creatures are very different. Whether you are a banana or a human, a huge difference in practical terms. Impossible to mistake one for the other. But wait, here comes the fun part: it is our genetics that differentiate one from another. A banana from Bob.
Our genes are a heritage from our parents. We all receive a bunch of genes by conception and develop from there on. They can be seen as instructions given to our body, they are restored in extremely long chemicals called DNA (DeoxyriboNucleicAcid). The long strings of DNA are packed tightly into chromosomes which contain several different genes.
One particular gene is a specific sequence of DNA. It tells the cell how to build certain proteins which have vitally important functions in cell life.
All too much at once? Not to worry, let’s go back to DNA and see what it consists of and how it affects us. Think of a ladder that is twisted and has several steps on it. This is pretty much what a DNA string looks like. It is called the double helix. The steps are made out of four main chemicals (Adenine, Guanine, Thymine, and Cytosine) that are the bases of the ladders, the steps. It is the particular order these four chemicals appear in that is super important. They are referred to as the base pairs.
You are 99,9 % identical to the person next to you – imagine, yet we find time to point out the differences rather than identify ourselves as a unified human race.
This is the part that determines whether you are a tropical fruit or a human. Alongside that, this also instructs your body with your personal characteristics: the color of your eyes, hair, skin and so forth. The entire DNA sequence is called the genome. And as the genetic research has taken giant leaps over the past decades, the interpretation of a genome from an individual is possible even if you are not a billionaire. Time consuming and a process that requires vast knowledge? Yes, but never the less possible. The genome contains 3,2 billion base pairs. As I said, time consuming to investigate. If an individual would read out loud without stopping the whole of human genome, it would take over 9 years to complete.
Obviously, these days we have sophisticated artificial intelligence to do the labor, but just to give you an idea of the intensity of research it has been taken to come this far. To have the possibility at our reach to even understand the genome.
Researching individual’s genome can be done in parts. Let’s say, for example we need to find an answer to a specific issue at hand, a certain sequence of DNA can be isolated and the base pairs analyzed. No need to read out loud for 9 years non-stop. This particular sequence will tell us the information we are looking for. Here the specific fields step in: nutrigenomics delivers information about what nutrition is recommended for a specific genotype, pharmacogenetics delivers details of how an individual reacts to a specific medicine and from there specialist doctors are able to provide recommendations to personalized medicine, to name a few. The knowledge we have these days enables us to extract information and interpret it to an everyday use. It would be a shame to miss this opportunity.