Genes to explain

A recent seminar at the Belarusian National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Genetics and Cytology brought to attention the fact that our individual features rely 75-90 percent on DNA, while the rest is the result of our lifestyle, environment and other factors
A recent seminar at the Belarusian National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Genetics and Cytology brought to attention the fact that our individual features rely 75-90 percent on DNA, while the rest is the result of our lifestyle, environment and other factors. Development of disease is mostly dependent on geno-type, as is sensibility to drugs. Already, DNA diagnosing is the basis for four medical avenues at the Genetics and Cytology Institute: personalized, predictive, prophylactical and envisaging patients’ involvement.  


The medicine of the future aims not to treat disease but the patient; with drugs prescribed to suit geno-type. Our country already applies this approach in oncology and in hepatitis C treatment, using genetic testing to detect whether a drug is likely to be efficient for a particular patient.

The Centre of Genome Biotechnologies, at the Institute of Genetics and Cytology, has been studying patient sensitivity to cardio-vascular drugs — in particular, Varfarin. Doctor of Biological Sciences, Professor Irma Mosse, tells us, “This is a very good drug, efficient for continuous arrhythmia treatment and use after valve replacement; however, results vary. Three genes help determine dosage by up to ten-fold.” Most people have normal sensitivity to Varfarin but some are extremely sensitive, with fatal consequences if even a standard dose is given. In turn, some patients can be treated with increased doses. A similar situation is observed with Klopidogrel, which is also widely used for treating cardio-vascular diseases.

Geneticists are predicting risk of certain diseases emerging, such as diabetes, metabolic syndrome, osteoporosis and stroke, using DNA data. The most impressive results are connected with genetic predisposition to thrombosis, which can lead to miscarriage. It’s impossible to detect without genetic analysis but twenty percent of pregnancies fail without explanation. The Institute of Genetics has tested 14 genes in over a thousand women who have suffered from unexplained miscarriage, and found that over 90 percent had 1-4 factors for thrombosis risk; some even had 6 or 7 unfavourable variants. After special therapy, around 80 have given birth successfully.

By Olga Korneeva
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