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April 25th DNA day. What is DNA and what is a genetic test?

DNA knowledge available to everyone

April 25 of each year commemorates the publication in 1953 of the article by James Watson and Francis Crick detailing the model of the double helix structure of DNA. Since then, genetic research has continued to advance. One of the main milestones was the complete sequencing of the human genome in 2003.

But what is DNA? DNA is found in the nucleus of each of our cells and is made up of four “letters”: Adenine, Cytosine, Guanine, and Thymine. These letters combine and intertwine in every possible way to form a double helix, which in turn compresses into packages called chromosomes. All people have twenty-three pairs of chromosomes, one sex chromosome related to our biological sex, and twenty-two somatic chromosomes.

The chromosomes determine our uniqueness: from what color our eyes are to the predisposition, we have to suffer certain diseases. Since the complete sequencing of the genome in 2003, gene technology has evolved at increasing speed and has led to very rapid drops in the cost of DNA sequencing. Today we know the significance of specific regions of the DNA. This knowledge helps understand facts regarding hereditary pathologies, nutrigenetics, or pharmacogenetics.

It is in this environment that 24Genetics enters to help interpret how DNA impacts on relevant aspects of our lives. The genetic test carried out using saliva samples that when introduced into a “sequencer” – a device that translates biochemical signals into zeros and ones -; the resulting file, of barely twenty megabytes of information, is then treated using advanced algorithms that offer us valuable information about our ancestors, the most suitable diet for our organism, the greater or lesser effect on our health of certain drugs or the type of sports practice that best suits our conditions

All this information is then presented in very detailed and easy to understand reports. It is surprising that in only 17 years, since the complete sequencing of the genome, genetic tests are now available at affordable costs for everyone. With them, we can make relevant decisions that contribute to improving our health and well-being.

If you are curious to know more about your health, your ancestors or how to nourish yourself in a more intelligent way you can visit the  online shop clicking here

Written by Manuel de la Mata

Geneticist

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