Personalized Genomic Analysis
Understanding your unique genetic blueprint eliminates much of the guess work that plagues “functional medicine” interventions that are not genetically targeted. Future Medicine places your genomic specificity in the foreground and provides instructions for designing custom programs that take advantage of epigenetic factors to optimize your body systems and health. Properly interpreted genetic data can tell you exactly what foods are best suited for your body, how to properly rest and recover, how to promote efficient detoxification, how to leverage anti-aging mechanisms, which pharmaceuticals are appropriate for your body, and how to supplement to maintain proper genetic expression and cellular health.
Genetics vs Epigenetics
Many cellular processes, including gene expression and DNA replication, are often regulated by mechanisms that fall into the category of “genetics”. This generally means that they are controlled by elements such as promoters, enhancers, or binding sites for proteins that are present or absent in a DNA sequence. In addition to the regulatory mechanisms of genetics, nearly all cellular processes can also be regulated by epigenetic mechanisms. Epigenetic mechanisms can be just as important to biological events as genetic mechanisms, and can also result in stable and heritable changes. However, the big difference between genetic and epigenetic regulation is that epigenetic mechanisms do not involve a change to the DNA sequence, whereas genetic mechanisms involve the primary DNA sequence and changes or mutations to this sequence. Epigenetic regulation involves the modification of DNA and the proteins associated with DNA, which results in changes to the conformation of DNA and accessibility of other factors to DNA, without a change to the sequence of the DNA. The most commonly known epigenetic modification is DNA methylation. Although many technologies have been developed in the past to characterize genomic DNA methylation, none of them has been able to efficiently determine DNA methylation patterns on a genomic scale. Until now.
Epigenetics vs Epigenomics
Epigenetics focuses on processes that regulate how and when certain genes are turned on and turned off, while epigenomics pertains to analysis of epigenetic changes across many genes in a cell or entire organism.
Epigenetic processes control normal growth and development and this process is deregulated in diseases such as cancer. Diet and exposure to environmental chemicals throughout all stages of human development among other factors can cause epigenetic changes that may turn on or turn off certain genes. Changes in genes that would normally protect against a disease, as a result, could make people more susceptible to developing that disease later in life. Researchers also believe some epigenetic changes can be passed on from generation to generation.
The epigenome can mark DNA in two ways, both of which play a role in turning genes off or on. The first occurs when certain chemical tags called methyl groups attach to the backbone of a DNA molecule. The second occurs when a variety of chemical tags attach to the tails of histones, which are spool-like proteins that package DNA neatly into chromosomes. This action affects how tightly DNA is wound around the histones. Epigenetic mechanisms are affected by several factors and processes including development in utero and in childhood, environmental chemicals, drugs and pharmaceuticals, aging, and diet.
Genetics vs Genomics
Genomics and genetics are very different approaches but are interchanged and misunderstood. Genomics is the study and interpretation of all your genes and how they interact with each other. Genetics, on the other hand, is the study of individual genes, or parts of genes, that have a known function. I take a genomic approach when analyzing your raw genetic data.This genomic approach allows me to devise nutritional, supplementational, and lifestyle strategies to support health and optimal genetic expression. The realization that the genome and epigenome is important to health and disease is really fundamental, because we now understand that our genome/epigenome is something we can do something about, as opposed to our hereditary genetics, which is what we are born with that we can’t really modify. The genome and epigenome is dynamic and open to influence. Your programming is designed with this in mind.
Personalized Genetic Services
Genetic research is the wild wild west right now; the genetic data/interpretation industry is valued at 8 billion dollars! New websites are popping up daily that use an algorithmic approach to analyze genetic data. But these websites only interpret individual genes and have no ability to understand global genetic patterns or gene interactions. This is why a clinical genomic evaluation is needed.
Automated gene reports list plus (+) or minus (-) signs and green, yellow or red colors next to genetic alleles. Incorrect interpretations can arise as plus and minus signs do not always indicate problems with genetic variants. Genes can be pathologically up or down-regulated, though sometimes these down or up-regulations can improve a pathway’s function. The important takeaway is that a gene’s functional context and ecosystem should be studied to determine functionality. It’s important to understand what the actual gene variants are, what research shows about those variants, and how those variants behave within individual pathways (folate cycle, urea, Krebs, etc) and how they interact with adjacent biochemical cycles (allergy, detox, methylation). This approach highlights the difference between genetics and genomics.
Genetic Data in 2017
Genetic data, until very recently, focused exclusively on hereditary disease risk factors such as cancer (promethase.com). This narrow focus tends to create more fear than necessary and doesn’t offer any insights into how to fix the body as a whole. Many key genetic pathways in the body are nutritionally-controlled, especially the cycles involved in various methylation reactions. These pathways can be optimized by extracting insights from genetic data (from 23andMe, for example). From these insights we can determine the best type of diet, exercise, and supplementation for your body.