Home > Disease > DNA and Disease Prediction

DNA and Disease Prediction

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 23 Feb 2013 | comments*Discuss
 
Dna Predict Predicting Disease Test

DNA has become an extremely useful tool for predicting disease. By allowing medical professionals to identify genes in DNA that are markers for disease, a person can make appropriate lifestyle or similar modifications to help lower the risk of disease. For those diseases that are inherited, identifying a parent who is a carrier but does not express the disease can also help parents make informed choices regarding a potential pregnancy.

Predicting Heart Disease

The incidence of heart disease continues to rise in the United Kingdom (UK) and many other parts of the world. Heart disease is a complex interplay of lifestyle factors and genetics. Recently, researchers in the UK found a method for identifying those individuals who have an elevated risk of heart disease. They found that telomeres - miniscule DNA strands that are found at the ends of chromosomes - could provide valuable information about a person's chances of having heart disease. It was found that shorter telomeres suggested a greater risk of developing heart disease in men aged forty-five to sixty-four years old.

The telomeres were measured in leukocytes, also known as white blood cells. Researchers believe that as telomere length decreases, a person's chromosomes are more likely to mutate. This relates to the protective effect of telomeres, which help to prevent damage to chromosome ends. The research can hopefully allow medical professionals to eventually predict someone's risk of heart disease, which will mean allowing us to find new ways to prevent heart attacks.

Predicting Brain Disorders

Brain disorders such as Parkinson's disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) are progressive disorders that lead to destruction of brain cells and functioning. In ALS, muscle use and mobility are lost, leading to death. Parkinson's disease results in tremors and compromised movement. Like ALS, no cure exists for Parkinson's disease, which means that research is vital to help scientists find effective treatments or a cure. New research has, however, provided clues about predicting these diseases.

In a research study based in the United States, scientists looked at data from people with ALS and Parkinson's disease as well as those who did not have the diseases. They found differences in genes that allowed them to predict those individuals who had an increased risk for the diseases.

These differences were noted after researchers investigated the axon guidance pathway. This pathway involves a complicated group of chemically mediated messages that are important in the brain during foetal growth. They work to support and repair the 'wiring' of the brain during a person's entire life. There were numerous differences in the pathway genes that relate to these diseases. In addition, researchers also found pathway genes that identify people at a very high risk of ALS, several thousand times that of the general population.

For Parkinson's disease, they discovered pathway genes that suggested a very high risk of approximately four hundred times that of the general population. It is hoped that for individuals who have a higher risk of the diseases, scientists will be able to create drugs that can target these pathways.

The Importance of Caution

While research into DNA and disease prediction is vital to preventing disease, there has been a worrisome side effect of this newfound knowledge. Home tests have cropped up on the Internet and in advertisements virtually everywhere, claiming to analyse a person's DNA to find genes that are markers for diseases such as cancer.

The results, however, are inaccurate and generally mislead the consumer. Government investigations have been conducted on many of these companies, with results inaccurate and false.

The tests constitute a fraudulent money-making scheme on the part of the company and should be avoided by consumers. It is recommended that if a person wishes to have genetic testing performed, that they see a physician for more information and reliable testing. DNA holds great promise for predicting disease and it is an exciting area of research but consumers should always remain cautious and ensure that they obtain testing and information from a medical professional.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • twinkle twinkle
    Re: The Importance of DNA
    The best way to describe the significance of DNA. Thanks
    21 January 2018
  • Bara
    Re: DNA Test after Death
    my brother passed away and was cremated. Is it possible to have his DNA tested using his hair off his clothes that we still have?
    21 January 2018
  • None
    Re: How was DNA Discovered?
    Sorry to read that Ray Gosling (Franklin's PhD student) has not been credited with preparing the DNA for, and then taking, photograph 51.…
    12 January 2018
  • Preston Playz
    Re: An Overview of DNA Functions
    DNA in the body also contains Nucleosides and nucleotides in Which both contains purine and pyridine that are complex compound…
    10 January 2018
  • ExploreDNA
    Re: DNA Test after Death
    Asking - Your Question:Okay I have a friend and she’s pregnant and has a child born her baby father passed away can she test her baby that’s…
    3 January 2018
  • Asking
    Re: DNA Test after Death
    Okay I have a friend and she’s pregnant and has a child born her baby father passed away can she test her baby that’s born to the pregnancy now
    2 January 2018
  • Teri
    Re: DNA Test after Death
    Mother died from cancer. Had treatments for almost year. Was cremated. Possible to still get any DNA from remains. It was 14 yrs ago Family…
    14 December 2017
  • Olas
    Re: Urine Testing for DNA Fragments
    Does dna enter the urine in the form of nucleuoproteins ? Or it enters alone I need explanation plz??
    9 December 2017
  • Lady Vee
    Re: An Overview of DNA Functions
    It's quite true that DNA was discovered by Crick and Watson based on the study I had on other sites... But I'm surprised you made…
    8 December 2017
  • Shakara
    Re: DNA Test after Death
    Hi just wondering on my birth certificate has my mum name and father but before my mum passed she told me he weren't my father so how can i…
    25 November 2017
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the ExploreDNA website. Please read our Disclaimer.