The Omics of Medicine – Part 1
Dear Longevity Insider,
The advent of high-throughput technologies in the field of genomic sciences and systems biology has brought about a revolution in primary prevention. From the early era of sequencing when short genomic reads were being characterized to the current era where the idea of personalized genomes has become a possibility, science has progressed tremendously. Omics refers to the review of specific types of medical information on a complete and comprehensive spectrum that ends in the suffix – omics. Omics-based medicine and systems biology will realize a new approach to practicing medicine – personalized, predictive, and precise medicine.
Human Genome Project: The beginning of a New Era of Personalized Medicine
The Human Genome Project (HGP) was the first step toward personalized medicine when it completed the sequencing of the first complete human genome. Whole-genome sequencing refers to the entire genome (your complete set of DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid) being sequenced. The HGP was led by an international team of researchers leading a scientific research effort to determine what parts make up human DNA, and also of mapping and identifying all of the human genes of the human genome. Despite recent technologies driving down the cost, it is still been expensive making it unfeasible for most to conduct individual genome sequencing. Recent advancements in technology resulted in a marked reduction in the cost thereby enabling personalized Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) which allows for the characterization of disease on a molecular level.
An even more promising alternative to the WGS is the whole-exome sequencing (WES) which permits the study of only the exonic or functional regions of the genome. This means instead of sequencing your complete set of DNA, you are only sequencing the protein-coding regions of genes in a genome. This technology is a fraction of the cost of WGS. WGS is a promising and cost-effective step towards the development of therapy tailored to individual needs.
Going Beyond the Genome: Exploring the Other Omics
Transcriptomics is the study of the transcriptome, or the entire RNA transcripts including the mRNA, non-coding RNA, and small RNAs, produced by the genome. The goal of transcriptomics is to detect which genes are expressed in the given sample. By collecting and comparing transcriptomes of different types of cells, clinicians can gain a deeper understanding of what makes a specific cell type, how that type of cell conventionally functions, and how changes in the regular level of gene activity contribute to disease.
Proteomics is the study of proteomes. A proteome is the entire set of proteins that are produced or modified by an organism. Proteomics provides important insights into our understanding of cell signaling, a key aspect of biological life. Cell signaling allows cells to perceive and respond to the extracellular environment allowing development, growth, immunity, and more!
The growth of proteomics has helped in providing insights on the data missing from transcriptome analysis. Proteome research is currently being used in the characterization of diseases like cancers, studying the effects of post-translational modification (chemical modifications that play a key role in functional proteomic), and biomarker discovery. Proteomic technology is extremely complex but new proteomics tools have enabled researchers to dive deeply into signaling networks, allowing them to find out information on interactions among key molecules.
Metabolomics is the study of small molecules, commonly known as metabolites, within cells, biofluids, tissues, or organisms, produced as a consequence of the metabolic processes. These small molecules constitute the metabolome and their study provides insight into various biological pathways involved in common disorders. Further advancements in metabolomics will aid in disease risk assessment, diagnosis, and therapeutics. Profiling of individual metabolites can be very beneficial for biomarker discovery which in turn is useful for the early diagnosis of the diseases and for personalized therapeutic strategies.
More on Thursday!
To your longevity,
Anil Bajnath MD
CEO/Founder, Institute for Human Optimization
Chief Medical Officer, Longevity Insider HQ