Know Your Genetic Diseases

genetic diseasesWhen Charles Darwin engaged the world’s imagination with the concept of evolution, people had no idea that evolution is often a gritty and aggressive process. When the body determines which genetic structures can be altered, and which have no relevance anymore, our health is often the battleground for the process. Genetic diseases can be the manifested casualty in the war between the genes.

In many ways, the gene is a fascinating thing—it is the map to your person. For so many years, people have been working to decode this map in hopes of translating heritage and deducing how a certain person might be even before they are born. Most of the research is geared towards correctly predicting if a person will have genetic diseases in their life as the latter is a very serious matter.

Case in point, the advances in genetic information are now so far that parents have the option of knowing whether or not their child will be affected by genetic diseases even before they are born. In some cases, parents can choose to give birth (as well as the other way around) to a child because of some genetic factors in the child’s composition. This, of course, becomes a question of ethics.

But this article is not about that, this is an article about genetic diseases. Because these kinds of illnesses are among the most dangerous threats to the human body as we know it, we should all make an effort to learn more about it. There are four main kinds of genetic diseases and these disorders are no doubt as destructive as they are fascinating.

The diseases are as follows: single-gene/monogenic genetic diseases which as the name suggests is brought on by a genetic mutation that can cause anything from sickle cell anemia to Huntington’s disease. Multifactoral/ polygenic disease is, of course, a breakdown of several genes which can cause diseases like Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and cancers—in fact a good number of cancer types are usually attributed to multiple gene mutations. Chromosomal and Mitochondrial genetic diseases are some of the more uncommon genetic diseases.

Why do genetic diseases happen, you may be asking. Well, it just happens: changes in the DNA structure happen, just like Darwin said it would. Of the four types of genetic impairment mentioned the last two are arguably the most damaging —causing abnormalities both physically and mentally.

For example, some chromosomal aberrations can cause Down syndrome. A life changing (as well as threatening) disease not just for the person afflicted with it but also, for the family. Down syndrome not only affects a person’s mental growth but also the personal growth as the disease inhibits him/her from having normal social relations.

Today, the researches that are being done to map out the human genome can help in the bid to prevent these sorts of diseases. When a person’s DNA can be examined and problems can be pinpointed even before birth, there is a chance to correct that defect even before it manifests. Genetic diseases can very well be a thing of the past.

In the meantime, how can we alleviate the needs of a person with genetic diseases? Well, some kinds of genetic ills are already well researched so that the quality of a person’s life need not change when one has a genetic malfunction. In terms of chromosomal or mitochondrial diseases, many societies are building towards extending more help to people with these genetic diseases.

The most important thing is this—genetic diseases can only impair life if we let it. Sick people are still people. We must all help and care for them in the most compassionate and emphatic way possible.