The terms DNA and genes are often used to mean the same thing. In reality, however, they stand for very different things. Therefore, next time you want to blame your physical appearance on your mother and don’t know whether to berate your DNA and genes, take a look at the following differences.
DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid. It is the chain of ‘links’ that control how different cells in our body functions. Each link is known as a nucleotide. Basically, DNA has two copies of 23 chromosomes each. One copy comes from the father and the other one comes from the mother. DNA carries genetic information. In other words, they are parts that decide what people inherit from their parents. This makes genes a subset of the DNA.
Genes define the fundamental characteristics we inherit from our parents. They are DNA parts that determine how the cells function and live. They decide how protein carries on the process of reproducing and building in our body. Genes determine how living things develop and how they pass on their genetic traits to their offspring. Let imagine a human body is a book that has only DNA. In that case, genes would be chapters that contain instructions on how to assist in cell production and formation of proteins.
Genetic testing is a medical test that is carried out to identify changes in chromosomes, proteins, or genes. The results of genetic testing help to rule out or confirm a suspected genetic condition. The results also help to determine the likelihood of a person to pass on or develop a genetic disorder. Over 1,000 tests are in use today, and more are being developed.
There are three main methods that are used for genetic testing: gene tests, chromosomal genetic tests, and biochemical genetic tests. Gene tests (or molecular genetic tests) study short lengths of DNA or single genes to identify mutations or variations that lead to a genetic disorder. Chromosomal genetic tests study long lengths of DNA or whole chromosomes to see whether there are large genetic changes that cause a genetic condition. Finally, biochemical genetic tests examine the activity level or amount of proteins; any abnormality in either can show alterations to the DNA that causes a genetic disorder.
Genetic testing is done on a voluntary basis. Since the testing has benefits as well as risks and limitations, the decision about whether to take the test is a personal one. Genetic counsellors or geneticists can provide you with information about the advantages and disadvantages of the test. They can also help you to understand the emotional and social aspects of testing.
Surviving trauma like wartime combat, rape or assault can leave an individual emotionally devastated. Now, a new research shows that people’s genes may help determine whether they will go on to suffer PTSD. According to Karestan Koenen, the lead researcher, our genes can explain why some people develop post-traumatic stress disorder and others do not.
The study found that the genetic risk for post-traumatic stress disorder is lower in men than women. It adds to evidence that some mental diseases like schizophrenia are genetically linked to TPSD.
Koenen noted that many people develop psychological distress after going through life-threatening experience. Such people may repeatedly remember the event and feel irritable, anxious and unable to sleep. These symptoms persist in some people who consequently develop PTSD. For many people, however, these symptoms decrease over time.
According to Koenen, a professor of psychiatric epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, genetic studies can offer a basis for new treatment of PTSD and help scientists to better match treatment to patients. Like other common disorders, PTSD is influenced by numerous genetic variants with trivial effects.
The new finding is important because it seems that a connection exists between the genetics of individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder and the genetics of people with other psychiatric problems like schizophrenia.
Some parents give birth to children who have “superpowers”, thanks to genetic mutations. From super-sleeper mutation to the inability to feel pain, here are three genetic mutations that make some people “superheros”.
hDEC2 : the super-sleeper mutation
Normally, people need to sleep around eight hours each day. However, individuals with the hDEC2 gene feel energized on just about four hours of sleep every day. Such people are known as “short-sleepers” and scientists have been working to examine exactly what predisposes individuals to require just 4 hours of sleep.
LRP5: the unbreakable bone mutation
Due to a genetic mutation known as sclerosteosis, some people are born with bones that are many times denser than the average human. People who have “unbreakable” bone mutation normally survive car accidents.
Congenital analgesia: the inability to feel pain
Imagine pricking yourself with a needle or putting your hand on burning stove without feeling any pain whatsoever. There are individuals who have a rare genetic mutation that enable them to do that, a condition referred to as congenital analgesia. Although this is an awesome “superpower” to have, it is extremely dangerous because some people with the condition could have serious injuries but have no idea.