Category : Editorial

With the deciphering of the genetic make-up of yet another chromosome, scientists Are well on their way to produce what's often described as 'a virtual periodic table of life'. This time it's been the turn of chromosome 14 -fourth in line after chromosomes 22, 21 and 20- to yield its blueprint to the gene sleuths, Genes control the formation of proteins that make a cell tick, deciding how it will repair, defend or divide itself and are packaged in chromosomes in the nucleus of our cells. After the first draft of the entire human genome (the complete set of instructions needed to make a human being that ore packaged in chromosomes) have been busy deciphering the chromosomes one by one.

Decoding chromosome 14 has obviously been o particularly rewarding experience for geneticists as it has led them to more than 60 disease-causing genes that it comes, besides a couple of crucial immune system codes. This wealth of information will help scientists understand why some people are more prone to certain rare afflictions such as the early onset of Alzheimer's and a severe form of Usher syndrome (which affects hearing and vision) It may take some time yet to develop specific treatments for diseases identified in the human genetic scaffold But what is important is that the new data wilt help doctors screen patients For these genetic conditions. For example, genetic factors play a major rate in triggering many cancers and cardiac diseases. By identifying these genes, doctors will now be able to warn patients about the potential risks and let them make appropriate changes in their lifestyles.

As the columns and rows of the human periodic table gradually fills up, some day it will be possible to identify abnormal genes and correct them in the eggs and sperm themselves. In other words, to edit the very DNA inheritance that one generation leaves behind for the next.



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