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The genetic age could be the golden age of medicine

Discussion in 'Other Health News and Research' started by Waverunner, May 9, 2013.

  1. Waverunner

    Waverunner Senior Member

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    I'm sorry if anyone gets bored by this topic but I can't help myself. In my eyes, this could be the beginning of the golden ages of medicine. Lately I listened to a lot of podcasts from the Human Genome Project, as well as other related topics including the microbiome. I can't get enough of listening to these scientists.

    Yesterday, while I drove to work, one scientist from a HGP conference said one of the most important things I heard for a long time. Actually, what he said was very plain forward:

    "Today we can see things, that we simple couldn't see ten years ago."

    And this could explain all the misery, we see with most illnesses today. This simple sentence explains, why there is no cure for chronic diseases, why we spend billions of dollars for more or less useless drugs. As long as we don't understand illnesses, it is pure luck, to actually find cures for them. And why don't we understand illnesses? Because we had no means to look at the molecular level. If one tries to understand how a microchip works, by just looking at it with his plain eyes, he will not come far. It's the same with diseases. But cheap genetic sequencing and the use of better computers, enables us advance to the next level of medicine.

    Genetic sequencing and molecular biology, can give us the insights, to understand diseases at a molecular level. The pre-genetic age will be replaced by the genetic age of medicine and the genetic age could be the golden age. Imagine what it means, if there were no more side effects to drugs because we actually know what the drug does and how it interacts with the genome of a specific person. Imagine what it means, if you actually fix the genetic cause of an illness. No more treating symptoms but actually curing a disease! Imagine what it means, if we understand the molecular level of bacteria and viruses. No more unspecific, often harmful antibacterial or antiviral treatments. We sequence microbes, we analyse if they are friendly or hostile and in the latter case, we treat them with maximum efficiency.


     
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  2. Marianarchy

    Marianarchy

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    Not at all bored by this topic. It's fascinating. Thank you for posting!
     
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  3. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    I agree that a full understanding of genetics will change a lot. It wont change everything. We also need a full understanding of brain development and function. We need a better understanding of mass dynamics of cells, including gut bacteria and pathogens. Genetics is a good step toward doing these things, but a full understanding of genetics is at least several decades away, if not centuries.


    "Today we can see things, that we simple couldn't see ten years ago." This could have been said of every decade since the 80s, and I would argue since the 50s. Each decade of success builds upon those that went before. The single biggest development was probably the creation of cheap computing. Computing power allowed automated testing, which allowed rapid research in lots of medical fields and basic science, and was critical for the genome project.

    The genome project is of course only the beginning. We need to understand the proteome too. What happens with proteins, how they interact with things and are modified (not all things in the body are fully genetically determined) is very important.

    However, the computing technology that enabled the human genome project will also assist with the proteome discovery and mapping the brain.

    The biggest problem with computing technology is not the hardware in these isues. Its the software. We have very powerful hardware, but the discoveries happen as the algorithms and software are developed to crack the mysteries of how we work.


    "Today we can see things, that we simple couldn't see ten years ago." Coming back to this statement, I don't want to put a damper on things either, just some realism. I expect this to be the same for the next decade, and the decade after, and so on. So what is it we will discover this decade that will change everything? Its very likely to happen, but nobody can predict it accurately, though I suspect many will say it was obvious with hindsight.

    I think one of the biggest advances might well be an increased understanding of the human body as an ecology, a community of millions of different cells including bacteria, fungi etc, even noncells like viruses. Ecological thinking may change how we treat communicable disease.

    What I want to see is a paradigm shift in medicine though. I want to see science and rationality embraced in medical institutions. Its not just about evidence based medicine, which frequently is not rational at this stage. There are signs this is happening, or might happen. I hope that continues.
     
  4. caledonia

    caledonia

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    In my opinion, this is similar to the Industrial Revolution, or the Internet Revolution - huge game changer. At only 10 years old, the science is still in it's infancy. Very exciting stuff!
     
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  5. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    I like to talk of the agricultural age, the industrial age, and the information age. Internet and rapid advances in genetics are part of the information age. Nobody knows how far this can go.

    Or to put it differently, mass production of food, of goods, and of information.
     
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  6. Waverunner

    Waverunner Senior Member

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    The big difference to the decades before is, that in my eyes, we reached a frontier now. Full genome sequencing was not possible and computers were not good enough to handle the data. Today we reached the molecular level including the full genomes. We look a full genomes and we can handle the data somewhat. Sure, we are still far away from simulating a full body but we finally have all the pieces laid out to us. In the decades before, we had the problem of finding all the puzzle pieces because we had no way to sequence these many base pairs. Next gen sequencing finally enabled us to look at the building blocks of life. Now we can start assembling and understanding them.
     
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  7. Allyson

    Allyson *****

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    yes totally agree that this is the way forward.

    I saw a geneticist yesterday actually and he said they will have gene test for all types of EDS in the next couple of years likely.

    Did you see the West Australian Face Space project - they do 3 d digital photos of kids aged 0 to 25 years adn follow them for geneitc and rare diseases and see how they are reflected in the face.

    HOpe to one day be able to diagnose form the face - phrenology lives ! lol

    One pertinent example for us - many with EDS have heart-shaped faces, large widely-spaced eyes, thinner lips and attached earlobes. No all but many.

    I found out yesterday the likely reason for the heart shaped face - the jaw is a little smaller than the upper skull - which results in denntal overcrowding so these folk - like me - often have several teeth removed an orthodontic work to re-position the teeth in their youth.

    more on the Face Space project at about page 30 -32 of this thread
    http://forums.phoenixrising.me/index.php?threads/is-me-due-to-ehlers-danlos-syndrome-stretchy-veins.20351/#post-310872
    Allyson, A moment agoEditDeleteReport
    #7
     
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  8. natasa778

    natasa778 Senior Member

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    I am not that hopeful at all, imo a HUGE paradigm change is needed first, esp by those who carry out such research. The awareness that metagenome plays a role first of all. Then that your metagenome will be reacting to everything in the environment, from the food you eat to the airborne toxins passing through you, to the infections you pick up along the way or those old ones lurking inside you. All that will be influencing and changing both your metagenome and your hard-wired DNA. They can do all the genetic sequencing they want but that will amount to not very much at all if they look at genetic sequences in isolation from on-going environmental influences.
     
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  9. Waverunner

    Waverunner Senior Member

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    True but the one doesn't go without the other. Analysing the metagenome is not possible without genetic sequencing. The environment has lots of influences on the expression of genes and how a human developes. The microbiome certainly can cause disease. Infections can do so as well. But in order to understand and cure diseases you need to know several things:

    a) Healthy genes?
    b) Healthy expression of genes?

    If the answer is "yes" in both cases, you know that only the environment is responsible for the disease. Give broad band antibiotics, replace the microbiome and you know, that only viruses or toxins are left. Genetic sequencing alone is not the holy grail but next gen sequencing stands for the progress we make. If I look at the medical field, I'm not very optimistic as well but the only problem I see is, that in contrast to everything else, drug development is much too expensive, takes much too long and is much too overregulated. If the US doesn't change its policy, hopefully China will.
     
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  10. natasa778

    natasa778 Senior Member

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    Expression of genes is very much regulated by environmental factors, so a b) No would still implicate environment ... Also the distinction of 'healthy' and 'unhealthy' genes is very blurred, in that we should often speak of genetic risk rather than etiology, where certain genetic make up will be problematic only in the presence of other factors (environmental or other genetic ones) and not by itself.
     
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  11. Waverunner

    Waverunner Senior Member

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    I still don't get your point about the environment. If you fall into a nuclear reactor, drink huge amounts of mercury or crash into a wall I'm quite confident, that the environment has a clear effect on you. In this case, the cause-consequence relationship is very clear. Unfortunately for 99% of PWCs it isn't. Why did we get ill, while other people ate the same foods, drank the same liquids, had the same infections, did the same things but are healthy? You cannot attribute a causative environmental underlying to CFS because other people live in the same environment but are healhy. What differs between humans are genes, viruses and microbiome. All three of them need to be sequenced, in order for us to understand them.
     
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  12. natasa778

    natasa778 Senior Member

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    By environment I also mean 'viruses and microbiome' - really anything that is not your inherited genetic code :)
     
  13. Waverunner

    Waverunner Senior Member

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    OK, got it. I find the whole situation especially awful when you look at IBD. People with Crohn's and UC suffer greatly and there are so many studies which point towards the microbiome as a causative agent but nothing is done. Every drug just aims at reducing inflammation but the diseases progress in most of the cases over time. I truly hope, that doctors and scientists take the microbiome into account soon.
     
  14. GhostGum

    GhostGum Senior Member

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    Getting a little off topic but I found your comments very interesting about face shape, smaller jaws and dental overcrowding since it relates a lot to this article I read a little while back,

    http://www.westonaprice.org/dentistry/mental-or-dental

    It expands on some of the work of Weston Price who studied the diets of many cultures and believed Western processed soft diets were the cause of many dental problems and underdeveloped facial structure.

    I do not buy their whole philosophy completely since it only appears to be a factor while many proponents of Price come across as if it is the holy grail of health and well being but much of it rings all too true for myself having developed a very narrow palate which appears to have made me prone to different health problems and not adapting well.

    Amazes me that it is all still not taken more seriously since it all seems very straight forward, many health professionals and orthodontists, if not a majority would still have us believe it is genetics when it is clear diet and respiratory problems during development can reek havoc on palate/jaw development.
     
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  15. Allyson

    Allyson *****

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    HI Ghost Gum - you must be in Aus wiwth that name lol?

    No not at all off topic and all and yes very interesting;

    I also think epigenetics is our only hope.

    and a lot of other do too - the post on EDS or ME has had over 19,000 hits and about 650 replies and at least 30 people have realised they had EDS - and that is tucked away i miscellaneous.

    the more i read the more i am sure they are related if not the same think - and CTD is the base cause for many of us wiht ME - it is the only thing that can logically explain the complexity and vast range of syptoms IMHO, let alone crashes and brain fog !

    Chek it out and see what you think - not my theory - form top notch medicos at Melbourne Uni.etc..

    http://forums.phoenixrising.me/index.php?threads/is-me-due-to-ehlers-danlos-syndrome-stretchy-veins.20351/#post-310872

    cheers mate,

    Ally
     
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  16. Jarod

    Jarod Senior Member

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    The possibilities of genetic engineering are amazing. :alien:

    Just think next time around when we can compute mentally like rainman, play the guitar like Joe Satriani, paint like Leonardo Divinci, and run like forest Gump.
     
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  17. Waverunner

    Waverunner Senior Member

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    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130515125030.htm

    First Time Human Stem Cells Have Been Produced Via Nuclear Transfer


    May 15, 2013 — Scientists at Oregon Health & Science University and the Oregon National Primate Research Center (ONPRC) have successfully reprogrammed human skin cells to become embryonic stem cells capable of transforming into any other cell type in the body. It is believed that stem cell therapies hold the promise of replacing cells damaged through injury or illness. Diseases or conditions that might be treated through stem cell therapy include Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, cardiac disease and spinal cord injuries.
     
  18. Wayne

    Wayne Senior Member

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    Hi Waverunner, interesting discussion you started here. I fully agree with you about the enormous potential of genetic research. I think it will become more and more utilized in medicine in the coming decades and centuries. Looking at things from a paradigm shift orientation, I also look at the enormous potential of "energy medicine". This would include using various modalities, such as homeopathy, flower essences, sound vibrations and therapies, etc., which influence our bodies in ways that are still very little understood. I think one way they influence our bodies is by influencing gene expression, which brings in the whole topic of epigenetics.

    I also think an enormous amount of headway will take place understanding how various structural abnormalities influence health and/or illness in profound ways. Example, I suffered for years from chronic headaches and neck pain, and went to numerous physicians, chiropractors, osteopaths, and others for relief. It wasn't until I did a procedure called atlas profilax that "repositioned" my atlas that I was able to relieve a lot of pressure on my major cranial nerves running from my brain stem to the rest of my body. Talk about major disruption.

    Thanks for your thread. I find it fascinating to consider the potential of various health modalities that will be very helpful in the future. I guess the future sort of fascinates me in many, many ways. :)

    Wayne
     
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  19. WillowJ

    WillowJ Senior Member

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    There is also epigenetics - the proteins on and around the genes, and which package them. Some of this is inherited. Some of it is fixed, while some is flexible. Some can be affected by environment (broadly and as-it-happens). Some of our epigentics are influenced by enviromental factors not just of our immediate environment and the environment we grew up in but also from our parents, grandparents, etc.

    http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/epigenetics/intro/ (short intro video)

    http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/epigenetics/ (more)

    http://theweek.com/article/index/238907/epigenetics-how-our-experiences-affect-our-offspring

    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/330/6004/611.full (medical applications)

    However I agree with you that there is more to the story than environment (even factoring in grandparents' environment). This is part of what makes changes to epigenetics, but I don't think environmental factors can explain M.E. for everyone.
     
  20. Waverunner

    Waverunner Senior Member

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    WillowJ, thanks. Epigenetics play a role but we still don't know how much of a role they play. The problem I have with "environment" as cause for illness is the observation, that we all live in the same environment. We eat the same foods, we go to the same schools, we do the same things and still some of us get ill. Lets suppose some PWC ate a lot of fast food and got ill. Now some people would suppose, that the bad diet lead to the illness but there are hundreds of millions of other people in this world who also have bad diets but don't suffer from CFS. That's why in my eyes, environment can be a trigger but mostly not the cause. We all live in the same environment and the majority of people don't have CFS.
     
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