April 25th WORLD DNA DAY
April 25 is the day on which two major milestones in genetics and, by extension, in science in general, are commemorated:
– The Discovery of the double helix structure of the DNA, in 1953
– The culmination of the Human Genome Project, in 2003, i.e., 50 years later.
That is why, this date has become a day to commemorate these two milestones, but also a day to further deepen the knowledge.
The double helix
The DNA structure was published in the Nature magazine under James Watson y Francis Crick name, both of whom, together with Maurice Wilkins, won the Nobel Prize for their investigation labor, in the year 1962.
The great overlooked in this story was Rosalind Franklin, the author of the X ray images that were critical to achieve this important scientific milestone. You can watch this documentary if you want to know a bit more about Rosalind Franklin.
The double helix is the concept used to describe the structure of a molecule of DNA, which it is conformed by two strands, that intertwine themselves in an helicoidal manner. Each strand has a backbone of carbohydrate and phosphate groups. Linked to each carbohydrate there is one of 4 bases: adenine (A), cytosine (C), guanine (G), or thymine (T). Both strands maintain their link due to the bonds formed in between the following base pairs: adenine bonds with thymine; and cytosine, with guanine.
This discovery forever changed our understanding of genetics and the study of how the physiological and physic inheritance is transmitted from one generation to another.
The Human Genome Project
During decades more and more discoveries related to the DNA were made, which allowed to expand the knowledge we had of the DNA, but the complete genome was still a goal to achieve, until in 2003, the scientists culminated a project, whose goal was to make a complete mapping of the human DNA. Over 20,000 genes were identified and the sequence of three billion base pairs that conform the human genome were determined.
Francis Collins, the director of the National Institute of Investigation of the Human Genome, declared that the genome is like a multipurpose book: it can be used as a narrative of the human species course along time, as an incredibly detailed blueprint to build each cell of the organism and, of course, as a tool that makes it easier for the health professionals to find new ways to treat and, most importantly, to prevent illnesses.
However, even though 2003 was the year the Human Genome Project was deemed as completed, it was not until the end of March of 2022 when it was published for the first time the true 100% completed human genome, including the repeated sequences of DNA.
The most common form of repetitive DNA are the DNA blocks that are repeated in tandem and are given the name of satellites. These group at the ends of the chromosomes at the regions known as telomeres, whose function is to protect the chromosomes from degrading during the DNA replication.
This is a new scientific milestone, since the gaps left in 2003, have finally been filled. Learn more about the Human Genome Project.
The Human Genome and health
24Genetics has as their main goal enabling every person to make the best decisions for their good health and well-being through genetics. That is why one of the areas we specialize on are health genetic tests.
The ability to see the genetic predisposition towards a pathology, allows to take preventive actions and be more careful. From this principle, precision medicine is born, which you can learn more about in our monthly post of our blog.