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Genetics is the science of genes, heredity and variations among organisms.  Living organisms are made up of genes.  Genes contain information the on building and maintaining cells as well as pass genetic traits on to offspring. 


Genes play a role in all diseases, including the common cold.  Researchers have linked various genes to inherited disorders.  In some cases, researchers are able to find the genes that interact with the environmental factors to cause common health problems like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes


Advances in the study of genetics will enable people to take steps to modify habits to avoid many of these disorders.  This knowledge will also encourage the development of more effective, more targeted treatments that have fewer adverse effects.


The more information you have about your genetic makeup, the better able you will be to make informed decisions about your health.




Cells - the body is made up of many different types of cells that perform different functions depending on the location in the body.  Each cell contains the same amount of genes but differ from each other depending on which gene or gene combination is active or inactive.  The genetic combination determines the type of protein created by the cell and the task the cell can perform. 


Chromosomes – the nucleus of every cell contain chromosomes.  Chromosomes are long “threads” of genetic material made up of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid).  Each parent contributes one chromosome to each of the 23 pairs.  Every chromosome contains from several hundred to several thousand genes. 


Genes - the basic physical and functional units of heredity.   Genes provide instructions for making proteins, the building blocks of the body. Scientists believe that genes make up only about 2 percent of the total genome; the rest consists of regions whose functions include keeping the chromosomes intact and regulating where, when, and in what quantity proteins are made.


DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) - life begins as a single cell organism containing genetic material from each of our parents. This original cell divides to about 100 trillion specialized cells, each containing a complete set of genes identical to that in the original cell. The organism also has a unique set of about 30,000 genes is called the genome.  The genome orchestrates the activity of all the cells in the body, enabling them to work together and to keep the body healthy and functioning normally.


Proteins – the building blocks of the body.  Proteins are essential for life. Some proteins make up structures such as muscles and skin; other proteins-including enzymes, antibodies, and many hormones dissolve in the body's fluids and are carried to wherever they are needed. Genes control the production of proteins inside cells and provide the instructions for making specific proteins in precisely the right number and at precisely the right time. Different proteins have different functions in the body:


  • enzymes regulate the rate of chemical reactions in cells
  • antibodies, produced by the immune system's white blood cells, destroy invading microorganisms and provide protection against infections
  • proteins in muscle cells provide mobility, pump blood through the body, and help move food through the digestive tract.
  • hemoglobin carries oxygen in red blood cells and gives the cells their red color
  • hormones control a variety of biological processes, such as growth, sexual development, and the activities of some organs

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