Health Highlights – April 13th, 2009

Health Highlights is a biweekly summary of particularly interesting articles from credible sources of health and medical information that we follow & read. For a complete list of recommeded sources, see our links page.

Health Highlights

Gene Genie #32 – Googling the Genie

Welcome to the 32nd edition of Gene Genie, a blog carnival devoted to genes and genetic conditions. This edition includes some excellent articles on genes and gene-related diseases, genetics, genomics and personalized genetics.

Google Health launched publicly this week and to recognize the event, the last section of the carnival is devoted to articles specifically about the service. Google, financial backer of 23andMe, also funds the Personal Genome Project, which plans to unlock the secrets of common diseases by decoding the DNA of 100,000 people in the world’s biggest gene sequencing project [1]. With the vast number of genetic data points collected for each genome sequenced, a digital system for the movement and storage of personal health information is critical for the widespread use of individualized healthcare. Google’s entrance into the online personal health records market may thus help to accelerate the era of personalized medicine.

With these thoughts in mind, let’s get to this month’s edition of the Genie.

Genomic Medicine: An Educational Resource from Helix Health

The Human Genome Project has heralded a new era in our understanding of the molecular basis of disease. Genome-based medicine or personalized medicine is believed to be the future of healthcare. Indeed, genomic medicine is poised to improve disease diagnosis, therapy and prevention.

Although genomics is related to genetics, there is a difference between the two terms. Genetics is the study of single genes and their effects. In contrast, genomics is the study of all the genes in the genome and the interactions among them and their environment. Genetics uses the information from one or two genes to describe a disease state, whereas genomics examines all genetic information to determine biological markers predisposing a person to disease. Genomics is especially relevant for complex or multifactoral disorders such as cancer, Parkinson’s disease, heart disease and diabetes, which are due to the interaction of multiple genes and environmental factors [1].