Just what is genomics? Most people have some idea as to what genetics is all about, or are at least familiar with the term. Introduce genomics into a conversation however and you’re apt to get a blank stare. There are those who use the two terms interchangeably, thinking they mean the same thing, but that’s not quite true, even though there is a definite relationship.
It’s All in the Genes
When we think of genetics, we usually think of it in terms of heredity. We inherit our ancestor’s genes, both the good ones and the not so good ones. When the conversation in about genetics, it most often is about individual genes and what their role is in heredity.
If genetics focuses on matters of heredity then, just what is genomics, and what is its focus? If you haven’t heard the term before, you still very likely have run across the term genome, specifically the human genome. A genome is much more complex than a gene, because it is a collection of genes. The human genome is in fact a collection of all of the genes that make up a given organism, whether that organism is human or something else.
Genes and their relationship to heredity can sometimes be a complex study. The study of a genome, or complete collection of genes is significantly more complex. More complex still is the study of genomics. That still doesn’t tell us what the term means. So, one more time, what is genomics, and why is it such a complicated study?
It’s Not All in the Genes
Genomics is the study of the genome, and in most instances it is the study of the human genome. What makes it complicated is that it is the study of the human genome as it interacts with its environment. This means that non-genetic factors come into play. Genomics isn’t just about what the human organism is like, but what it is like in relationship to the environment it is in. That environment is often expressed in terms of a person’s lifestyle.
This of course leads to yet another question. If genomics is the study of the genome as it reacts with the environment it is in, of what importance is such a study? What are the goals of the study of genomics? The answer is actually fairly straightforward. If you come down with some disease, the cause of that disease could he hereditary, or it could be caused by something in the environment, which could be anything from germs to simply leading an unhealthy lifestyle. Your genetic make-up might be the cause of a disease you come down with, or it could make you more susceptible to a disease where the environment is a factor, or it could make you more resistant to certain diseases.
In other words, you can’t totally separate diseases that are a direct resort of a person’s genetic make-up from those diseases, like the flu, that come from the outside. You genetic makeup could be such that you have a weakened immune system, and consequently you will fall victim to any germ that happens to be passing by. Monogenic diseases, those that directly result from genetic disorders, are relatively rare, affecting less than one percent of the populations. Many diseases, such as heart disease, asthma, and diabetes, to give three examples, are much more complex, and their cause is often due to some combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Why the Study of Genomics is Important
What the study of genomics does, or is trying to do, is gain a better understanding of those complex diseases whose causes are not always well understood. Many of these diseases appear to have roots both in the environment a person is living in and the person’s genetic makeup. The more that is understood about the human genome, and the ways in which the environment can impact it, the greater the knowledge will be as to what causes certain human diseases and disorders. At least that’s the hope.
The genome and the environment it’s in represents a dynamic system, and dynamic systems are more often than not complex systems. Genomics addresses this complexity by going about trying to understand it by a disciplined approach that has been built around a great deal of knowledge.
An analogy may be of some help. If you are studying a single plant, and how well it is functioning in the environment it’s in, it would be analogous to a study in genetics. If you’re looking into the health and well-being of an entire garden, it would be analogous to a study in genomics. Looking at one plant is like studying a single gene, including the effects of the environment on that gene. Studying the garden requires looking at multiple genes, the effect of the environment on those genes individually and collectively, and the effects interactions between the different genes. This is one reason why, in a vegetable garden, it’s not always a good idea to plant certain types of vegetables too close to certain other types of vegetables. It gets complicated.
What is Bioinformatics? A Guide to Biological Technology
What is bioinformatics? This is a question that one probably wouldn’t ponder unless the word “bioinformatics” were to come up in conversation or read about in an article. Bioinformatics is a specific research and development field dealing with technology that organizes, stores, and retrieves biological information. On top of that, bioinformatics technology may also process certain types of biological information on a level that would be highly difficult for humans to interpret and process by hand. Comparing and matching DNA sequences and pinpointing genome mutations are just part of what bioinformatics has a hand in.
The Beginning of Bioinformatics
The basic foundation of this field began in 1970 with the actual coining of the phrase “bioinformatics.” There weren’t any major developments in this area until the early 1980′s when scientists began to make major headway in gene mapping. “In situ hybridization,” a hybridization technique that allows scientists to locate specific DNA and RNA sequences in a tissue, became the preferred method in genetic mapping. In the late 1980′s, HUGO (the Human Genome Organization) was created and some of the world’s top scientists helped to launch the creation of the Human Genome Project. In just a few short years HUGO had successfully mapped almost 2,000 human genes. In 1996, a French genome research center called Genethon created the first fully completed human genetic map.
The completion of the human genetic map kick-stated a demand for large-scale databases—a means of storing and retrieving all of the genetic data produced by the Human Genome Project and several other similar projects that were cropping up. Scientists not only began to create various algorithms to locate and map various sequences of DNA and RNA, but they also began to broaden the types of technology used to detect and manage their findings. In the late 1990′s scientists made major discoveries using bioinformatics, including the genetic link to preeclampsia, mapping the E.coli genome, and discovering the location of the FET1 gene. Further efforts went into sequencing complete chromosomes. The Human Genome Project reached completion in April 2003.
A Career in Bioinformatics
Although there have been great strides made in this field over the last couple of decades, scientists are still striving to fully sequence each chromosome in the human body and to better understand the nuances of each one. This will give scientists and doctors a better understanding of what traits are governed by specific chromosomes and also which medical conditions are linked to the presence of certain mutations or defects on a chromosomal basis. This type of biomedical research can give humanity the edge it needs to overcome some devastating chromosomal conditions, such as Down syndrome, Edwards’ syndrome, William’s syndrome, and Patau syndrome.
Pursuing a career in bioinformatics is a great way to contribute to the research that will hopefully help scientists gain a better understanding of the intricacies of the human genome. Many individuals shy away from a career in bioinformatics because the prospect of learning and retaining large amounts of biological and scientific information may seem overwhelming. In truth, a career in bioinformatics is largely based upon mathematics, engineering, and computer science. Many individuals who work in this field are trained to gain a deeper understanding of computer-based technology with emphasis in improving existing technology and engineering new and innovative machines. In reality, one needn’t understand the intricate biological details of the human body in order to create a computer code to isolate, analyze, and store genetic information. Individuals with a gift for computer coding, technology, a math might genuinely be cut out for a career in bioinformatics. Knowing that one will contribute to humanity’s understanding of genetics (thus possible future prevention of genetic conditions) can be extremely rewarding.
Higher Education in Bioinformatics
More and more higher learning institutes are offering interdisciplinary training in bioinformatics. Those who are interested in pursuing such a degree may have a lot of questions about what his or her education might entail. Each university and college has its own curriculum for this degree program which may be influenced by any specialty areas that may be pursued. Most degree programs in bioinformatics are Masters or Bachelors of Science, Engineering, or Art. These degrees require anywhere from three to five years to complete. If desired, one may also pursue a Ph.D or Doctorate of Science in computational biology or biomedical informatics. For those less interested in long-term educational commitments, there are also certificate programs offered by colleges and universities all over the world. Some institutes even offer the opportunity to gain a certificate or degree through online education, which might be ideal for those who are pursuing this education “on the side” or who are have other commitments that make it difficult to attend classes on campus.
Understanding the primary goals for those who participate in biomedical informatics can better help to answer the question: what is bioinformatics? The main goal is to simply better understand the “genetic puzzle” that is the human body. To decipher the coding that is essentially the blueprint of life. In turn, understanding these nuances can help scientists develop better pre-diagnostic tools and maybe eventually even create a method for correcting abnormalities and mutations of a genetic nature.
Whenever I work in the lab, I don’t like to be disturbed as much as possible even with personal necessities. So I sometimes hold myself and avoid urinating even if I wanted to until I have finished my experiment. But I was afraid it could take a toll on my health.
One of the health problems I fear having is developing kidney stones. Kidney stones develop from the chemicals found in the urine such as the phosphorus, uric acid, oxalic acid and calcium. In my research, I found out that the real common causes of kidney stones are mineral imbalance, dehydration, excessive vitamin D consumption, improper diet and gout.
Many people are asking what do kidney stones feel like because just like me, they are worried they might already have these stones. Regardless of the size of the stones, they can cause severe pain on a person. Other symptoms may also come out such as frequent urination, vomiting, nausea, painful urination and excessive sweating.
Many cases of kidney stones can be treated at home using natural ingredients. Based on my research, here are some of the most common home remedies for avoiding or eliminating kidney stones:
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
A mixture of 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar mixed in a cup of warm water and a teaspoon of honey is one of the most inexpensive home remedies for kidney stones. Drink this mixture several times a day.
2. Olive oil plus lemon juice
The combination of olive oil and lemon juice is a traditional remedy for gallbladder stones, which may also work as well for kidney stones. The citric acid in lemon juice can help break down the vitamin D component of the kidney stones and stop its growth.
Simply combine 4 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice and equal amounts of oil. Drink this mixture followed by water. Drink it three times a day for three days or more. One drawback of this remedy is that it may not be an effective remedy for large stones.
Pomegranate seeds and juice both contain astringent properties which can help in passing kidney stones. Making this fruit a part of your diet can help you avoid and pass kidney stones.
Basil which is one of the most common herbs used in the kitchen is regarded as a good tonic for the kidney and may also help induce expulsion of stones from the kidney. Steep at least five basil leaves in a cup of boiling water for 10 minutes. Let it cool before drinking. You may also add a teaspoon of honey to the tea for better taste. You could take it in the morning before breakfast for at least five months.
5. Nettle Leaf
Nettle leaf helps promote smooth urination and can be a good remedy for people with kidney stones. It acts as a natural diuretic and can help avoid the formation of kidney stones. To benefit from this remedy, get a cup of hot water and then add 2 teaspoons of dried nettle leaf. Steep for 10 minutes, strain, and then drink the tea. Drink at least two cups of this tea every day for several weeks.
If you do have kidney stones but are afraid you may develop it because of your lifestyle, or if you already have kidney stones that you want to get rid of, these simple home remedies may be able to help you. You may still need to see your doctor for advice.
I have known of some people who are suffering from various skin problems such as rashes, pimples or acne, which cause them to be less confident about themselves. I even have a classmate in my master’s class who really spend a significant amount of her budget on creams and ointments just to get rid of acne. Thankfully, I don’t have to deal with serious skin problems until now. But one of my greatest fears is to have nodular acne because I have seen how disturbing it can become if a person has it especially on the face.
Acne nodules are inflammatory acne lesions that can spread all over the skin when there is a severe acne breakout. These nodules are large bumps under the skin which can be painful and difficult to treat. They can also last long and may cause acne scars in the end. Aside from the face, acne nodules may also develop in other parts of the body where there is an abundance of sebaceous follicles. They may also appear on the chest, back, neck, face and in severe cases, on the arms, buttocks and thighs.
While those who have a budget normally resort to expensive treatments such as LED light therapy, there are several remedies available that are less expensive. One of them is salicylic acid peel which involves using salicylic acid as a peeling ingredient. This remedy is known to help improve the skin texture of patients with acne. Although it should be done with a doctor’s supervision, you can also do it at home with some safety precautions.
There are also acne medications that can help reduce swelling of the acne nodules. One of them is cortisone which is injected into the acne nodules to control shriveling and avoid scarring. I have also known of oral corticosteroids that can also be used to get rid of acne. And of course, there are topical products containing active ingredients such as salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide which can help shrink the nodules. In some instances, stronger antibiotics may also be administered to kill acne-causing bacteria.
Aside from conventional medications, you may also be able to benefit from using natural remedies such as herbs that contain antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Natural remedies can also be as effective as commercial treatments and they are also less expensive and generally leave no side effects. Among the known natural remedies you can try are aloe vera and tea tree oil extracts. You can directly apply them on the affected area to promote healing.
I have also known of people who use honey, green tea and ginger to treat their acne, but I am not sure about how they use these products. They are normally prepared as a paste which is then directly applied on the skin.
Different remedies may have different effects on people. One remedy may be effective on one person but not on another. If one remedy does not work for you, you could always with caution try another. Personally, I prefer a natural remedy because it leaves no side effects. But then again, it is a personal choice you have to make.
Feeling nervous at times is normal. I feel nervous every time I make new experiments in the lab. I also feel nervous when I am alone or am in an unfamiliar place. And sometimes, I just feel nervous without any valid reason.
There is nothing wrong with feeling nervous from time to time. It is a normal reaction of the body to stress and more often, it could help a person protect himself from risky situations or to finish a particular undertaking. However, there are people whose nervousness becomes abnormal. I know of some people who have developed anxiety disorders because of frequent unreasonable nervousness. People with problems in dealing with nervousness may also develop anxiety disorders. And it is important to know when nervousness becomes a disorder because it is that time when you should see a doctor.
Here are five of the most common anxiety disorders and how to detect them:
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PSD) is common among people who have experienced a terrifying ordeal where the person’s safety was threatened. That ordeal could be an accident, disaster, physical or sexual assault or military combat. Signs that a person has PSD include nightmares, lack of sleep and persistent memories of that terrifying event. Also, you will notice them to be easily startled or emotionally detached.
People who have a recurrent and unwanted obsession that leads them to do repetitive behaviors or compulsions are known to have an Obsessive Compulsive Behavior (OCD). It is manifested by behaviors like repeated hand washings, checking locks, cleaning excessively and counting objects, among others. Doing their rituals provides people with OCD temporary relief but seeing a doctor is the best way to deal with the problem.
Some people develop an anxiety over an intense fear that they are being publicly watched or judged. This leads them to develop a Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD). Sufferers may have a hard time going out socially, attending occasions, or going to school or work.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Patients with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) are characterized by exaggerated tensions, worries and chronic anxiety even when there is nothing to be worried about. Sufferers can be overly concerned about almost anything such as health, work or family issues, and finances. They often manifest irritability, fatigue, headache, hot flashes and sweating.
Relationship Anxiety Disorder
Fear and love are two factors that could lead a person to develop a relationship anxiety disorder. This disorder is derived from GAD and is not yet officially diagnosed. However, this kind of anxiety is very common in many relationships. Symptoms include inappropriate and excessive jealousy, being overly clingy or needy, and being aloof and disinterested about other things. In their relationships, they also always test their partners and are constantly demanding for reassurance from their partners.
Although patients suffering from anxiety disorders may be able to find relief by taking supplements for anxiety, I still strongly suggest seeing a doctor as the best course of action. Among the people who I know to have anxiety disorders, I have seen some improvements on those who regularly see their doctor for advice.