March 2012

Scientists Lets Colleagues Track IS DNA for Personalized Medicine

There has been a lot of talk in the genetics world over the past several years about personalized medicine. This is the concept that a doctor can take a look at your genetic structure and decide not only what ailments and diseases that you are at risk for, but also the best way to treat it.

It’s still in its infancy, but scientists do a variation of this when they type a tumor for chemotherapy treatment. A Stanford doctor let his colleagues map his complete genetic makeup and that of his mothers.

They then tracked him for more than a year constantly taking blood and studying hi to find more information about personalized medicine. Other than a few surprises such as his risk for type II diabetes and high cholesterol, there wasn’t new information that came from the investigation. The result of the study isn’t what makes it interesting, but that a scientist offered to experiment on himself is.

The Mystery of Genes

I've been interested in genetics for a long time. I grew up in a farming community and crafting better and more resistant corn came down to genetics. I leaned a little more about it college and a lot more when I worked at a Department of Energy national laboratory.

 

I learned that the human body is incredibly complex and that even the slightest change in a person's DNA can cause major effects to their body. It can also have a major effect on how the look. If I ever needed a reminder about that all I have to do is look at my children.

My First Look At Genetics

"Today, children learn so much more about genetics and at an early age."

I remember when I was in high school we first started talking about genetics. It wasn’t anything special and it certainly didn’t get into any great detail, but it our first look at the fascinating world of genetics.

This was the early 1990s and the Human Genome Project was a dream and cloning was something you read about in science fiction novels. Our education on the subject consisted of talking about dominant and recessive traits.

I learned that my red hair and blue eyes were recessive and was taught about dominant and recessive using the Punnet square. We also learned a little about genetic problems such as the Super Male and other problems with chromosomes.

Looking back, it was all so basic. Genetics was still a science in its infancy and was only brought into the limelight after Michael Crichton published Jurassic Park. Everyone thought we were on the cusp of cloning dinosaurs in the lab and that everyone was going to have pet dinos in 10 years or they were going to be able to clone your dead cat.