Epigenetics and Personalized Medicine
Personalized Medicine has revolutionized the treatment of many serious ailments in recent years. Equally spectacular are its nutritional effects, as individualized diet regimens are proving better, in terms of prevention and treatment of various diseases, than the generalized instructions that have prevailed so far.
Personalized Medicine is a new and evolving science in which doctors use diagnostic procedures to decide which treatments will function better for each patient individually. By combining test results with the patient’s medical history, they are able to prescribe targeted treatment regimens, which prove to be `more effective than the generalized therapeutic approaches that have been valid until today.
Personalized Medicine is based on Epigenetics, the study of external or environmental factors that activate and deactivate genes and affect the way cells interpret and express the genetic code.
Each gene is a unit of heredity, as it is passed from parent to offspring and determines some characteristics of the child. The genome consists of the set of genes that a person inherits from both parents, but also from non-coding DNA / RNA sequences.
The epigenome, the mechanism by which the cell controls at all times which of its gene regions are functional, which it achieves either by causing chemical transformations in the DNA strand or by locally altering the three-dimensional shape of the strand, can be dynamically altered by external environmental factors.
Nutritional Genomic Research studies the relationship between genes, diet and health.
Simply put, we are talking about how food or nutrients, in general, affect the expression of genetic information in an individual and how an individual’s genetic makeup influences metabolism and response to nutrients and other bioactive components of food.
The objectives of nutritional genomic research are:
– the identification of genes and gene variants which may be important for understanding genetic responses to diet,
– the identification of genotypes related to the disease and treatment with diet and / or macro-micromolecules,
– the modification of the diet for the treatment or prevention of the disease, and
– the improvement of dietary guidelines.
Nutritional genomic research has also resulted in Functional Nutrition, which is based on the effect of macro and micro-nutrients on DNA structure, gene expression and metabolism. Nutrition has the ability to affect important molecular processes and thus alter the appearance and progression of a disease.
A study presented at a recent experimental biology symposium on improving human nutrition through genomics, proteomics and biotechnology reported:
“It is clear that the diversity of the human population is a nutritional reality. This diversity makes imperative to identify the problems of metabolic regulation and its causes and interventions, so as to be addressed and finally resolved “.
It is therefore obvious that individual metabolic evaluation and targeted nutritional approach are far more important than generalized dietary recommendations. The study shows that not all people are the same in terms of their response to diet. Some people may gain weight with a particular diet and others may lose weight by following exactly the same diet.
This highlights the need to approach the nutritional needs of individuals, based on their genetic and metabolic characteristics, instead of trying to place everyone under an umbrella of generalizations and simplifications.
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Dr. Nikoleta Koini, M.D.
Doctor of Functional, Preventive, Anti-ageing and Restorative Medicine.
Diplomate and Board Certified in Anti-aging, Preventive, Functional and Regenerative Medicine from A4M (American Academy in Antiaging Medicine).