THE SCIENCE OF
Every person has several trillions of small cells which, together, form the tissues of our body. Each cell has a nucleus, in which there are about 30.000 different genes, controlling a wide variety of properties and mechanisms of our body. There are for example genes that determine the color of our eyes, genes that control what height we reach, genes that are responsible for the digestion of certain food, and genes that are responsible for the function of the nerve cells in our brain. As a whole, the genes form the blueprint of our own individual body.
Unfortunately, our genes are not error-prone, and each of us has certain genetic defects either inherited from our parents, or which have formed by misfortune, and now have a negative effect on our health. These genetic defects may have different consequences: they may weaken our immune system, increase our risk of heart attack, or give us bad sight. They trigger asthma and allergies, or cause overweight if we have an unregulated diet. Of course, each of us carries different genetic defects, which means that some people have a higher risk of heart attack, while others are, for example, lactose intolerant. Diseases that occur frequently in certain families are a good example of the fact that individual risk of illness can be different from family to family, and from person to person.
The blueprint of our body
Genetic defects can affect our health, although in many cases they are not causing a disease, but merely an increased risk of disease. Other external factors (such as environment or lifestyle) influence the outbreak of the disease. If a person is, for example, lactose intolerant due to a genetic defect, this person is perfectly healthy as long as she does not drink milk. Problems appear only in conjunction with certain environmental influences - in this case, eating or drinking products that contain lactose.
It is the same for other diseases as well. For example, if a regulatory gene for iron intake is defective, this can increase the risk of an iron assimilation disease, and preemptive measures are necessary in order to delay the apparition of the disease or even to stop its developments.
Increased risk of diseases due to genetic defects
Thanks to the latest technologies, it is now possible to test certain genes for defects. Based on the analysis’ result, we can develop a prevention program that significantly reduces your personal disease risk, and helps you stay healthy.
A healthy lifestyle is, of course, generally preferable, because it can neutralize many genetic predispositions even without additional information about your personal risks. However, genetic testing provides you with additional information, and as such, you will know what you should be particularly careful about, even if these preventative measures do not fall under the general guidelines of a healthy life.
Genetic testing for health care
The scientific literature already identifies a large number of genes that are associated with diseases, but in many cases, it was not possible to scientifically verify these associations. In other cases, although a significant statistical link exists, the influence of a possible genetic defect on the disease risk is too low to justify a genetic analysis only for precautionary purposes. After a rigorous selection of the potential risk genes, there remain for example, 16 possible genes left connected with thrombosis. In each of these genes, several defects have already been discovered; these defects were linked with the increased risk of thrombosis, based on scientific studies conducted in collaboration with thrombosis patients.
From these genes, only those genes were selected, which carry sufficient genetic defects in the European population to warrant genetic testing. Genes that, for example, trigger a defect in only one of 20.000 people, were deliberately not included in our program, because they cannot justify genetic testing. It was also checked, for each gene, whether genetic defects in these genes also sufficiently increase the risk to justify such an action.
According to these strict selection criteria, all relevant risk genes were selected and included in our program. Therefore, the public health reports speak only of the genes relevant for health care.