Sunday, 9 June 2013

Why Bank DNA?

The below top reasons were shortlisted to determine the necessity of banking DNA.

1.DNA Safe Storage for Future Testing
Huge range of genetic tests are available to evaluate and analyze DNA. New tests will soon be available with time. Banking DNA ensures that you and your family are not left behind if you make the choice of availaing clinical genomics services to manage and in some instances cure diseases.

2.Disease Prevention
Majority of diseases can be traced to our genetic makeup. What if you knew which diseases you are at risk of developing? Could you take preventative measures to minimize these risks? The answer is yes - current technology is already capable of using DNA to predict certain health predispositions in the family, and advances are being made to identify many more. Knowing your family’s genetic history assists in early detection, making it possible to take measures to prevent or mitigate the devastating effects of the disease before it is too late.

3. Personalized Medicine

Knowing your DNA type can assist doctors in determining drugs and treatment plans that will work best for you, eliminating the ineffective ones. This type of personalized medicine, known as “pharmacogenomics”, is already being used to determine the tolerance, optimal dosage level and effectivity of drugs used in heart disease and cancer patients. We can expect to see many exciting developments in the future for this rapidly growing field. Using DNA sequencing technologies it is now possible to treat cancer with a very high degree of certainty for choosing drug combinations with minimal side effects and avoidance of ineffective drugs.

4.Study the Cancers Source and Other Diseases in Your Family
Thanks to advances in genetics, researchers have managed to pinpoint mutations in the DNA responsible for contributing to certain types of cancer, heart disease and other serious hereditary conditions. Keeping a record of your family’s DNA is an important step in tracing the root cause of the disease and paves the way for targeted treatments.    

5.  Personalized food

The genome is ultimately the source of every bodily function. The types of food and allergies to ingested food, or the evident avoidance of spicy cuisine (stomach acidity), lactose intolerance are instances where genomic information  can help arrive at some answers for a better diet.

What is DNA Banking?

A DNA bank is a repository of DNA, usually used for research. The NIAS DNA Bank, for example, collects the DNA of agricultural organisms, such as rice and fish, for scientific research. Most DNA provided by DNA banks is used for studies to attempt to develop more productive or more environmentally friendly agricultural species. Some DNA banks also store the DNA of rare or endangered species to ensure their survival.
DNA Banking is the secure, long term storage of an individual’s genetic material. DNA is most commonly extracted from blood, but can also be obtained from cheek cells, saliva, or other tissues. DNA can be banked at any time during a person’s life, but it is particularly urgent for the elderly and terminally ill. Once a person is buried or cremated, it is difficult or impossible to obtain a DNA sample.

What is DNA?

DNA in the molecular perspective is a polymer of four different fundamental units called nucelosides (a nitrogen containing base molecule). The four nitrogen bases are Adenine (A), Guanine (G), Thymine (T), Cytosine (C). The A,T,G,C molecules are joined together to form a polymeric chain - which we call the DNA. DNA has some basic characteristics that make it the store house of genetic information - collectively called the genome. 

Some characteristics in brief - it can be copied AND edited with a high degree of fidelity (faithfulness), portions of the genome can be switched on or off to send information in a matter of seconds to minutes. DNA can be compacted through its interaction with proteins, this allows the storage of genetic information in extremely small spaces. Due to compaction, DNA is protected from random insults of the dynamic biochemistry that operates in the cell's interior.

The genome of any organism exists in every cell, organ, organ system, tissue of the whole body. There are very few exceptions where DNA is non-existent for example in Red Blood cells and Blood platelets in humans. These cells have enough genetic instructions in the form of RNA. RNA is a temporary copy of DNA that gets translated into protein- a functional unit that performs precise tasks of "life".

The basic characteristics described so far are collectively exploited in modern research and medicine to gain a better understanding of biological processes. Based on these facts we can now explore some fascinating questions below.