What are genes?
There are around 25,000 to 35,000 genes in each human cells. Genes are so small that they aren’t visible to the naked eyes. With a strong microscope, you may see genes on tiny spaghetti-like structures called chromosomes, which can be found inside cells. Genes contain the information for the production of protein. They determine your traits and features. You inherit your genes from your parents. You may get physical traits as well as predisposition for certain diseases.
Problems with genes
Scientists constantly study genes to find out what illnesses are caused by genes that don’t work properly, also known as mutations. Mutations are believed to be responsible for lung problems, cancer, and many other illnesses. When a gene is missing, or there’s an extra gene, problems may occur as well.
Some of these problematic genes can be passed down to offspring. For example, if a parent passes an impaired hemoglobin gene to their child, the child’s body may only produce hemoglobin that doesn’t work properly. Hemoglobin is vital to the transportation of oxygen in the blood to body tissue. Problems with hemoglobin result in anemia.
Genetic testing for diseases
You can take tests to figure out if you’re genetically predisposed to any diseases. Results from genetic testing greatly help health professionals with diagnosis of many conditions. Genetic testing may be carried out with several types of body fluids and tissues. In some cases, doctors may recommended genetic testing for couples if one of them, or their close relative, has an inherited disease. Some people may carry a gene for inherited disease even if they show no sign of it. If test results confirm the existence of a genetic illness, genetic counseling may be recommended to help parents understand their situation, available options, and decide what to do next.
Gene therapy – new treatment for genetic problems
Gene therapy involves technology of genetic engineering to replace a problematic gene with a healthy one. Although gene therapy is still in its early stage, clinical trials using this treatment have yielded quite positive results. For example, in 2017, John Zhang, a reproductive endocrinologist and his team t the New Hope Fertility Center in New York used a technique called mitochondrial replacement therapy to help a mother with a fatal genetic defect carry to term a healthy baby. To bypass the defect, combined DNA from two women and one man.
Gene therapy is also a promising treatment for cancer. Scientists are trying to figure out a way to use patients’ own blood cells to kills cancer cells. In a study, 82 percent of patients had their cancer shrink by at least half at some point during treatment.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Review Date: October 9, 2017 | Last Modified: September 11, 2019