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Cutting-Edge Genetic Testing

Since the human DNA script was deciphered by the Human Genome Project completed in 2003, the field of genomics has made great progress in finding variations in multiple genes that affect health and diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and osteoporosis, as well as drug response.

The difference between genomics and genetics

Genomics, a much newer field than genetics, has become possible only in the last few decades, due to technical advances in DNA sequencing and computational biology. This field of study, which focuses on the entirety of an organism’s genes, known as the genome, uses bioinformatics. These high-performance computing and math techniques allow genomics researchers to analyze enormous amounts of DNA-sequence data to find variations that affect health, disease or drug response. In humans, this means searching through about 3 billion units of DNA across 23,000 genes.

Genetics is the study of heredity, or how the characteristics of living organisms are transmitted from one generation to the next via DNA, the substance that comprises our basic unit of heredity, genes. Companies providing direct-to-consumer DNA tests and health reports are more familiar to the general public than those that provide more medically comprehensive genomics reports. This is due to consumer interest in genealogy and ancestry, which is showcased in genealogy television shows such as PBS’s Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and TLC’s Who Do You Think You Are?

Genomics is helping researchers discover why some people get sick from certain infections, environmental factors and behaviors, while others do not. For example, this science may hold the key to genetically understanding why individuals who exercise their whole lives, eat a healthy diet, have regular medical checkups die of a heart attack at age 40, while others smoke, never exercise, eat unhealthy foods and live to be 100.

Sophisticated Genomics Reports

The most sophisticated of genomics reports, IntellxxDNA, provides unprecedented insight into an individual’s unique genetic make-up to assist a physician in developing true, personalized care. An individual’s DNA contains variants, or single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP), that may signal potential benefits and potential risks that lie within their DNA. IntellxxDNA reports examine the complex interplay between these variants and how they can affect the individual’s quality of life. Reports include evidence-based, well-researched potential intervention strategies—encompassing environment, lifestyle, nutrition, supplements and medications—that can serve as the basis of discussion between an individual and their children.

Our DNA is not our destiny. Understanding our genomic profile empowers us to make intelligent health and wellness choices now that may impact our future quality of life. IntellxxDNA reports focus on the health and wellness of the whole person, rather than on isolated disease states. Ordered and reviewed by a clinician, a genomic profile is one of several factors of consideration when making clinical decisions to help achieve optimal health goals.

Eduardo Maristany, M.D., is a board-certified internal medicine physician practicing at Naples Center for Functional Medicine (NCFM), formerly Hughes Center for Functional Medicine, located at 800 Goodlette Rd., Ste. 270, in Naples. He specializes in interpreting genomic IntellxxDNA tests and exploring with individuals how the benefits of can contribute to a patient’s overall health and wellness plans. Maristany will present a complimentary genomics lecture at NCFM on Jul. 30 at 6 pm. Call 239-649-7400 to RSVP.

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