HMB265H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Medical Genetics, Gene Therapy, Habitat Destruction

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Lecture 1: Genetics and Genomics of Biology
Genetics: The Science of Inheritance
What is inherited
How is it inherited
Where does heritable variation come from?
How do heritable traits change over time?
Why Do We Care?
1. Medicine
Many common and rare diseases are inherited
Even infectiour diseases can have a genetic component (e.g. AIDS, malaria resistance
Understanding the genetic basis of disease can lead to the development of new treatments and
allow for important screening
o New treatments: identifying disease genes helps in efforts to cure
o Diagnosis and prediction: Do you have a presymptomatic disease & what is the
chance that my child will have it also?
o Gene therapy: replacement of “diseased” gene with “normal” gene: still experimental
o Pharmacogenomics: how does my genetic makeup affect my response to drugs
Many ethical concerns related to medical genetics in society
o Should we test for diseases with no cure
o How to interpret ‘probability’ of contracting disease?
o Privacy (employers, insurance)
o Gene therapy: what counts as ‘normal’ vs ‘disorder’
o Can a compant patent my genes (no)
2. Agriculture
Crop and livestock improvement rely on understanding of genetics of important traits
Genetic engineering becoming widespread practice
Genetic diversity of crops and livestock affects their long-term survival
3. Conservation
Habitat destruction reduces gentic diversity
Genetic diversity affects a species’ ability to adapt to changing environments
Low genetic diversity also increases exposure of populations to genetic diease
4. Biology
Genetic analysis helps us understand how organisms work
How they develop
How they behave
How they adapt to their environment
Genetics of Type II Diabetes
Researchers have identified numerous genes that influence the risk of type II diabetes
Most only confers small increase in risk (e.g. 1.3 times), explaining only a small fraction of
Genetics plays an important role in type II diabetes, but
diet and lifestyle also have major impact, and are the
major causes of rising incidence
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