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Every cell in our body contains DNA, genetic information instructing all essential life processes. Discover how decoding genetic information can help us understand events happening in our bodies and fight against complex diseases. How is this powerful information being used for reproduction? Is the era of genetically enhanced humans quickly approaching? Come and discuss DNA with us over a pint!
The 100,000 Genomes Project
Dr Arianna Tucci (Senior Clinical Fellow)
Many diseases have a genomic basis, from rare “single gene” disorders such as cystic fibrosis, to complex polygenic disorders like dementia, or tumour evolution driven by mutation. Next generation technology has transformed the capacity and cost of genome sequencing. The 100000 Genomes Project began to establish the use of genome sequencing in the NHS by analysing the genetic code and medical histories from people who have a rare disease or cancer. The project aims to better understand the cause of rare diseases/cancers and learn the best way to use genetic information to help NHS patients.
Clash of two genomes: Mito-nuclear interactions shaping energy production
All things need a motor to run. The V8 engine responsible for giving energy to every cell in our body is called the mitochondria. Mitochondria are the only organelles that have DNA in the animal kingdom and the main purpose of this DNA is to help with energy production. As a consequence, energy production is coordinated by two parties: the mitochondria and the nucleus. Accurate communication between the two is thus crucial for efficient energy production. I will discuss what happens when this communication breaks down, and how scientists are trying to solve this problem.
What does the future of reproductive genetics hold?
Since 1989 we have used genetic tests to look at genes and chromosomes in preimplantation embryos, a technique called preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). If you can afford it and desire it, companies are offering PGD for gender, eye colour and soon, IQ. Where will the future take us? If you have the money, will you use in vitro fertilization, PGD and sequencing to make your child, selecting the healthiest and most desirable embryo? And if the parents do not carry the desired genes, will we use genome editing? Will the transhumanists or bioconservatives win the reproduction race?