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  • Writer's pictureSinead Mackintosh

From Mendel to Personalised Medicine

The field of genetics is relatively young, and we have come a long way since Mendel and his famous peas in the 1860s. It would take nearly 100 years from Mendel’s work to when we discovered DNA in the 1950s.

Initially, genetics was seen as a static science that simply described the traits that were passed down from one generation to the next. However, as research progressed, it became clear that genetics was much more dynamic and complex than previously thought.

One of the most significant discoveries in genetics was the realisation that genes can be turned on or off by various environmental factors. This concept, known as epigenetics, has profound implications for our health and well-being. It means that the lifestyle choices we make, such as what we eat, how much we exercise, and even our stress levels, can have a significant impact on our genetic expression.

Another key development in genetics has been the rise of personalised medicine and pharmacogenomics. Scientists are working to design drugs that are tailored to each individual's unique genetic makeup. This has the potential to revolutionise the way we treat diseases, as drugs could possibly be targeted to the specific genetic variations that are causing the problem.

However, with these exciting developments come important ethical considerations. For example, as genetic testing becomes more widespread, there are concerns about how the results will be used and who will have access to them. There are also questions about how much control individuals should have over their genetic information and whether it should be used for purposes beyond medical treatment.

Overall, our understanding of genetics has come a long way in the past few decades, and it continues to evolve. As we learn more about the complex interplay between genes and the environment, there is no doubt that genetics will continue to play a critical role in shaping our health and our future.

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