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Unlocking the Genome: The Most Innovative Genetic Programs and Trends

by Altaf Shaikh
Unlocking the Genome: The Most Innovative Genetic Programs and Trends

As technology advances further and further, we get closer to replicating more of the technology seen in our favorite science fiction media. Advancements in robotics get us closer to Short Circuit. Advancements in A.I get us closer to Terminator (without the nuclear war and such).

But everyone always comes back to genetic manipulation to get something like the cloned dinosaurs from Jurassic Park.

While you won’t see a T-Rex walking around anytime soon, many genetic programs have taken massive steps forward in how far the science has come. But what are these innovations?

Well, you’ve come to the right place. It’s time to break down the most innovative genetic programs and trends happening now!

But enough preamble! Let’s get started!

  1. Medical Purposes

So what are the first trends scientists are heading towards with genetics?

For starters, undergoing various experiments to see if genetic science can work to improve medicine. One of the most famous examples involves the Human Genome Project, which was founded to break down every single pair on nucleotides in a genome.

Genomes are the collection of the genes that code your body coupled with non-coding DNA found in every cell.

Upon finding this data, scientists were able to use this information to start fighting back against these diseases. For starters, scientists could look at the makeup of a human genome. After that, they compare the structure against the cellular structure of disease to find out if the two shared any similarities.

After that, you use the comparisons to see which genes the disease targets. From there, you could insert the target genes back into a cell to replenish the ones lost to the disease.

On an evolutionary level, some scientists are using the ability to view genetics to observe the process of genes going through natural selection. In theory, this will allow us to grasp a better understanding of how evolution works. It could even predict trends in human evolution down the road.

And the Work Continues

The recent find of cell-free DNA allows doctors to perform tests that were unthinkable several years ago. For example, taking a blood sample of a pregnant woman and analyzing the cell-free DNA for traces of fetal DNA. This DNA helps to say if the child is at risk for any genetic disorders (like Down syndrome).

These techniques are also used to detect cancer in the early stages before it grows more dangerous. Plus, it can monitor the condition of transplanted organs!

Similar techniques can analyze the genetic paths of entire families and check their predisposition for genetic conditions. This will allow researchers to learn more about how diseases passed down through lineage. Some scientists even predict this data can help analyze concepts like fertility rates and longevity in family lines.

A lot of work also goes into ensuring that these results can get mapped out, with special software like ROSALIND getting used to figure out How to Analyze Nanostring nCounter Data. These programs can also help separate DNA (the “base code” for humans) and RNA (a natural conversion of DNA that converts into proteins in our body).

  1. Narrowing the Results Down

Another important trend in genetic programs involves making the measurements of genes and cells less general. Splitting measurements from collections of cells down to single cells is one of the main ways researchers have developed to counter this.

This is because every cell expresses different parts of the DNA, and so vary slightly from one another. Because of this heterogeneity, the results of tests get skewed and become a rough average rather than a precise conclusion. By using new tools like microfluidics, researches can section off individual cells from one another without destroying the cell.

Having the ability to isolate specific cells also lets researchers set them aside. Then, they compare them against colonies of cells to find patterns in their genetic makeup. These patterns then boost our understanding of heterogeneity.

As a result of all these advances, researchers are also preparing to run bigger and bigger tests.  Research groups like the Million Veterans Program are also popping up to address sections of the populace.

  1. The Wilder Side of Genetic Programs

On the less conventional side of genetic trends, scientists are working on ways to use animal organs (namely pigs) as substitute organs for humans who need donations. This is done by adding human genomes. Then, certain pig genes that contain infections the human body can’t handle get removed with a kind of tech known as CRISPR. As a result, the pig’s organs become more compatible with human systems (at least in theory).

A second theory posits that pigs could be genetically altered so human organs could grow inside them. This would create a human-animal hybrid however, an ethical query no one wants to tackle.

On the topic of ethical queries, several scientists in China got arrested for creating human embryos with CRISPR tech. Other scientists have hopped on to continue their work (albeit in a regulated manner) which could reveal new findings about human genomes and gene editing.

Finally, CRISPR is also getting used on crops like tomatoes to make them resistant to disease. Interest in using the tech to help protect fruits against the effects of climate change has also grown over time.

Another out-of-the-box study involves studying the genetic difference between identical twins. This is done by looking at the methyl groups bonded to the DNA strands of each person.

These methyl groups (molecule groups composed of three carbon and one hydrogen molecules) have slight variations that show the genetic difference between twins. As a result, the pre-existing belief that identical twins share identical DNA compositions gets debunked.

The Future is Now Thanks to Science

And there you have it! Now that you know all about the most innovative genetic programs and trends, it’s time to open our mind to whatever scientific wonders come around the corner next! And if you want to make sure you hear about those innovations as they happen, make sure to check out the rest of our blog!

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