Personalized Medicine: Mapping Out Your Code

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As a physician, I see many patients who have similar conditions. However, I also realize that every patient will need slightly different combinations of medications. I have also noted that not everybody responds in the same way to similar treatment.

I have often wondered if there was a way to “map out” the “code” of how an individual’s body produces the enzymes that break down the medications.

What if we could use this map to check for an error that leads to the production of an enzyme or a co-factor in the body that may hinder optimal biochemical production?

Or, what if we could counsel patients to take certain supplements and correct these errors?

DNA

genesI have been introduced to a relatively new field of molecular biology called “genomics”. This field focuses on the genome which is where DNA is located.

As you may remember from school days, DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) is the “code” in cells that signals the synthesis or production of proteins like hormones, enzymes and many others used in metabolic processes.

This DNA code which can replicate itself, is arranged in a double helix – a beautiful and elegant geometric pattern – that was discovered by Watson and Crick in 1953. (Read “The Double Helix” by Watson and Crick for more info).

RNA

rna dnaRNA (ribonucleic acid) is transcribed from DNA and it is used to produce proteins.

Its 3 amino acid sequences are recognized by complementary base pairs and this enables them to produce the correct amino acids which are “strung along” until a protein is made.

SNP

SNP which stands for “single nucleotide polymorphisms” or “snips” are small errors in the genes.

There are approximately 20,000-30,000 SNP’s in each genome. These occur when a given base pair sequence has one pair that is transcribed wrongly. This leads to an incorrect amino acid and a protein with a slightly abnormal structure.  The resulting protein doesn’t work exactly as it should.

These SNP’s can be modified by environment and nutrition. This implies that our genetic makeup is not fixed as we may believe.

What is also fascinating is that we can also MEASURE these SNP’s by using new technology. This technique uses samples of body fluid, usually saliva, which are evaluated in the laboratory to map out certain genes and detect SNP’s on those particular genes.

Physicians who interpret these tests can advise their patients on how to supplement deficiencies and optimize as well as reduce risk in an individual’s health.

In the next post, I will go into more detail about certain genes and SNP’s

Image 1 Credit, Image 2 Credit

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2 thoughts on “Personalized Medicine: Mapping Out Your Code

  1. Great post! I wondered about this. This is a keeper for my file…thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

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