Dr. Sladana Pavlovic, Specialist, Internal Medicine, Medcare Medical Center shares more about the intricacies of DNA Testing and how we can fix defects.
What do the first 30 minutes of your day look like, your morning routine?
My morning routine typically begins with a peaceful moment of reflection or meditation to set the tone for the upcoming day. I prioritise hydration with a glass of water and a moderate resistance workout to awaken my body. After a nutritious breakfast, I opt to walk to the clinic to amp up on my vitamin D and get my steps count.
Talk us through the process of DNA testing and how does it work?
Overall, there are several types of DNA or genetic testing. We differentiate between diagnostic DNA testing to identify a suspected mutation causing a specific disease and predictive DNA testing which can comprise prenatal or carrier testing. The process involves a systematic procedure, starting with the collection of biological samples such as blood, saliva or tissue. Extracting DNA entails breaking down cells using specialized chemicals and enzymes, ensuring purification for pristine samples. After nucleic acid isolation, one of the challenges to genomic sequencing methods is the identification of DNA fragments with the same sequence, due to initial preparation of many millions of different sequences with many different DNA pieces. To overcome this problem, the nucleic acid sample is prepared into a “library”—a collection of DNA fragments each with common sequences. During analysis by bioinformatics there is a comparison of the fragments with databases or genetic markers to detect variations or mutations and hence allow interpretation of results, uncover relationships, predispositions or origins. These findings compile into detailed reports, pivotal for forensics, diagnostics, ancestry, and personalided medicine. DNA testing’s advancements have revolutionised genetic understanding, providing critical insights into heritage and health across diverse fields.
Stress can increase your biological age – are there any tips to reverse it?
Stress significantly accelerates biological aging, impacting both physical and mental health. Yet, lifestyle adjustments offer a potent counterbalance. Mindfulness practices like meditation, yoga, and deep breathing show promise in reducing stress hormones and hence slowing ageing. Simultaneously, regular physical activity not only lowers stress levels but also nurtures cellular health, metabolism, and mental well-being through mood-boosting endorphins. A balanced diet rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and essential nutrients becomes a vital defence against stress-induced free radicals, supporting cellular health and potentially reversing aging effects. Additionally we can add antioxidants in the form of supplements to enhance our dietary intake. Prioritising restful sleep aids cellular repair, countering stress-related wear and tear. Integrating stress management techniques and seeking professional guidance equips individuals with coping strategies, mitigating stress’s impact on biological age and overall well-being.
There are millions of DNA pieces in a single drop of blood – tell us more.
In a mere droplet of blood, there exist millions of distinct DNA fragments. These microscopic segments encapsulate an individual’s genetic blueprint, offering an expansive reservoir of biological information. Each fragment carries a unique code, contributing to the comprehensive understanding of an individual’s genetic makeup and inherent characteristics. The abundance of these DNA pieces within a single drop of blood facilitates profound analysis, unravelling the complexities and nuances of one’s genetic composition and providing invaluable insights into their traits and predispositions.
Dr. Sladana Pavlovic, Specialist, Internal Medicine, Medcare Medical Center
Prime editing is the latest advance in the field of gene editing, which is developing at an incredible pace. – Can this edit DNA?
Prime editing, a cutting-edge breakthrough in gene editing, represents a “search and replace” technology with a rapid evolution in the field. This method enables highly precise modifications in genome editing technology that can perform all 12 possible base-to-base conversions, insertions, and deletions by employing a customized Cas9 enzyme coupled with a reverse transcriptase. Its refined approach holds immense promise in rectifying genetic mutations, presenting novel opportunities for addressing a spectrum of genetic disorders and diseases with exceptional precision and efficacy. However, it is a fairly new method which definitely required further scientific research and studies for optimization.
Is it possible to fix the DNA damage effects? – tell us more.
Repairing DNA damage is feasible through intricate cellular mechanisms like DNA repair pathways. Yet, certain factors affect the effectiveness of repair. The extent and type of damage, environmental exposures (radiation, toxins), and an individual’s age or genetic predisposition influence repair capabilities. Repair mechanisms might fail if overwhelmed by extensive damage or impaired due to aging or genetic mutations. However, advancements in research and technology continually unveil new strategies to enhance repair processes. Understanding these factors and exploring innovative interventions holds promise in improving DNA damage repair, potentially mitigating its effects on genetic stability, and preventing associated health issues.
Spending a day in the sun can cause 100,000 DNA defects in each exposed skin cell – what’s the best way to take precaution?
Shielding skin from excessive UV light exposure is crucial. Employing broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF with two hourly reapplication is one of the easiest and most effective ways to prevent sun damage. Protective clothing and avoidance of high UV exposure during peak sun hours are additional measures generally recommended. Regular and sufficient hydration is also considered very effective to aid skin health. Seeing a dermatologist annually for a skin check-up is a major factor in preventing malignant course of skin changes and early skin cancer detection. A combination of these precautions significantly reduces DNA damage risks caused by sun exposure, safeguarding skin cells from the harmful effects of UV radiation and decreasing the likelihood of long-term skin damage and mutations.
What are the innovations in DNA testing – how has this grown over the years?
Innovations in DNA testing have surged, evolving from early techniques like PCR to advanced methods such as next-generation sequencing (NGS) and CRISPR-based technologies. NGS enables faster, cost-effective whole-genome sequencing, revolutionizing research, and diagnostics. CRISPR offers precise gene editing, promising therapeutic breakthroughs. Miniaturization and automation streamline processes, enhancing efficiency. Moreover, AI integration expedites data analysis. Over the years, DNA testing has transcended boundaries, expanding applications in medicine, forensics, agriculture, and personalised health, fostering a profound impact on diverse fields, and shaping the future of genetic exploration.
Are more people in the UAE testing their DNA – how has the curiosity grown over the years.
The interest in DNA testing has seen a notable rise in the UAE over the years. Factors like increased awareness, advancements in technology, increased focus on health and a growing curiosity about ancestry have propelled this trend. The availability of direct-to-consumer DNA testing kits has made it more accessible to individuals, fostering curiosity about genetic heritage, predispositions to diseases, and personalized health insights.
This is ‘The Tech Issue’ – how does technology help you improve your daily life?
Technology enhances daily life through connectivity, efficiency, and convenience. Communication tools like smartphones and social media foster instant connections worldwide. The biggest advantage undeniably is the access to infinity learning platforms and access to vast information. Being a doctor I would like to emphasize telemedicine which has offered us an opportunity to monitor patients in remote areas, adjust therapy plans and hence reduce hospitalisation rates. Overall, technology catalyses convenience, connectivity, and productivity, transforming routines and enabling a more connected, efficient, and versatile lifestyle for individuals across diverse spheres of daily life.
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