In 1990, scientists embarked on a mission to accurately decipher the chemical progression of the human genetic material in its entirety, labeled as the Human Genome Project. The project was completed on time and within the budget in 2003. That allowed humankind to review all of its genetic data. Since then, biologists have discovered new research pathways into the human genome, one of which has been termed “genomics.” Genome – as we’ve observed – encompasses an organism’s genes in their entirety. Whereas genetics focuses on studying these genes individually, genomics chooses a collective study of genomes. And this study has observed some rapid technological transformation recently.
Advancements In The Study Of Genomics
What are some current genomics-related advancements in science? Before that, we must create a better understanding of this discipline. Genomics falls into the category of omics technologies that pursue the study of molecules. We studied proteins (proteomics) that led to the discovery of biomarkers for human ailments. There’s metabonomics, where metabolic activities inside human tissues get reviewed. Genomics deals primarily with genomes, manipulation, exploitation, and mutation to burrow deep into the human body’s mysteries. Here we’ll explain a few technological advancements that have changed the future of healthcare in the world. These marvels are now the actual future of medicine:
Since cells are the primary entities in biological phenomena, single-cell sequencing allows scientists to interrogate deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) at the cellular level. In single-cell analysis, biologists apply omics approaches to study cells individually within their microenvironment. The ability to understand individual cells’ behavior through Single Cell genomics has revolutionized the healthcare industry. For example, scientists can study small amounts of mutation-carrying cancerous cells. Also, single-cell sequencing helps reach unattainable solutions, e.g., examining cell tissues that are difficult to culture. No wonder Nature Methods awarded this technique the “method of year” in 2013.
In the 21st century, reproductive health has become popular among couples that plan to conceive a child together. These couples undergo genetic carrier screening to discover if they carry a gene for a particular disorder. This examination eliminates the threat of passing some hereditary disease on to your children. We now have an entire field – reproductive genomics – that deals with these issues. For instance, maternal blood acquired from the pregnant mother goes through genome sequencing to evaluate the fetus’ neonatal condition. Similarly, “trio testing” involves testing parents and their children to recognize their genetic patterns and discover which diseases they’re prone to get.
The world has succeeded in developing, testing, and administering coronavirus vaccines to humans – or some of them. But RNA-based therapeutics have created the possibilities of better vaccines. What’s RNA therapy? It’s like “gene therapy,” but only here, instead of DNA, we introduce RNA into a patient’s cells. Today, certain COVID vaccines such as Pfizer and Moderna use mRNA technology. It replaces the whole-virus technology where weakened versions of a virus get injected into your arm. Our cells get informed on how to create viral proteins crucial to SARS-CoV-2’s stability in mRNA technology. Then our cells learn to build immunity against this protein and thus against future infections.
Research into cancer:-
Researchers are investigating how genomics can help find cures for difficult-to-treat diseases such as heart failure and multiple sclerosis. Cancer treatment is another example of how genomics enables clinicians to improve the efficacy of chemotherapy. Similarly, genomics facilitates inexpensive cures for patients thanks to molecular diagnoses. In some cases, doctors have even successfully stabilized a patient’s cancer and improved cancer diagnosis when therapy isn’t available. This technique helps pathologists to identify certain tumors that cause cancer and customize treatment plans for patients. Hence, genomics makes cancer treatment cheaper and more effective.
Genomics has made genetic engineering convenient by replacing traditional molecular synthesis techniques. Synthetic genomes allow inserting genes into a plant’s structure without disturbing its native chromosomes. Scientists have developed methods to artificially create DNA molecules inexpensively to assemble them into larger ones. Their efforts recently resulted in the construction of a complete bacterial genome and an artificial yeast chromosome. However, these artificial chromosomes have yet to be invented. But such endeavors are gradually becoming financially feasible with the costs of DNA synthesis dropping – revolutionizing the future of genetic engineering.
In April, more than 1.2 million COVID genome sequences obtained from around 172 countries were uploaded online. This information will help scientists accurately track the origins of coronavirus and the migration of its viral variants across the earth. Since the first genome sequence found its way on the internet in January last year, scientists have been busy using genomics to fight this virus. They’re confident that genomics will enable them to control this pandemic by reducing the duration of the next outbreak. Where contact tracing fails, genomics helps scientists monitor an outburst. It tells them whether a doctor got infected by a patient or attended a social event.
Gene expression profiling:-
The human body contains twenty to thirty thousand genes. But how many of them are active at the same time? Scientists use gene expression profiling to identify active genes from passive ones. It helps them understand which treatment options are the most effective for a patient. This method is also beneficial when it comes to identifying biomarkers and investigating immune responses. How is a person’s gene expression even profiled? The research measures mRNA amounts since a gene’s active if it’s producing mRNA. From biologists to toxicologists, there are several disciplines where this tactic finds its application since it offers correct information regarding gene expression in a body.
Another innovative approach in genomics involves mutating an organism’s DNA sequences. Scientists can slice DNA at a particular “cleavage site,” introducing a break (called a nick). Then they bring the required mutations inside that nick that can come from donor molecules too. Also, further investigations have shown that such mutations can get engineered in plants. So, scientists have been successful in altering genes in rice, potato, and even tobacco protoplasts. Mutating DNA-binding proteins enables biologists to modify the activity of genes. We can state that manipulating some intrinsic biological procedures permits us to exploit DNA in plants precisely.
From confirming the DNA’s helical structure to discovering 30,000 genes in the human body, the field of genomics has evolved to provide applications in medicine, biotechnology, and even social sciences. The genetic diagnosis of maladies isn’t just cost-effective but also shrinks genetic testing to a single examination. So, experts perform genetic mapping to understand how diseases can get prevented. Moreover, it helps us assess antibiotic resistance and inhibit the growth of bacterial diseases. Similarly, we can learn from Single Cell genomics how a single gene may cause infections. These studies lead to early diagnoses and preventions. No wonder genomics has become the future of modern medicine for 21st-century patients.