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What Doctors Don't Tell You

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July 2020 (Vol. 5 Issue 5)

Hereditary disease isn't in our DNA
About the author: 
Bryan Hubbard

Hereditary disease isn't in our DNA image

Our DNA isn't an instruction book. Instead, it's just a list of ingredients our cells will use every so often, new research suggests.

The real drivers that determine our health are found in the molecules that regulate a cell's DNA, says Antony Jose, associate professor of cell biology at the University of Maryland.

"DNA cannot be seen as the 'blueprint for life'. It is at best an overlapping and potentially scrambled list of ingredients that is used differently by different cells at different times," he said. One good example is the colour of our eyes, which is not determined by our DNA but by the cells associated with eye colour.

Biologists have been unable to explain, from reading DNA code, how we get our eye shape or why we even have eyes at all, and that's because it's determined by instructions outside the DNA.

His theory has garnered support from other academics. Michael Levin, a professor of biology at the Tufts Center for Regenerative and Developmental Biology, believes the theory unlocks many puzzles about our health and development that the DNA 'blueprint' model hasn't been able to answer.

Hereditary diseases aren't a factor of genetics, and so medicine has been looking in the wrong place for answers. Instead, these diseases may have more to do with the arrangement of molecules and the way they interact with each other, says Jose.

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(Source: Journal of the Royal Society Interface, 2020; 17: 20200154)

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