Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Your genes at work

We all have lots of genes and DNA and RNA and all those little bitty muons and amino acids and proteins and lots of other little bitty things that make us up. We have never learned a lot about many of them but are beginning to find out more and more.

Do you remember when they said they could sequence the human genome and they said it would lead to medical breakthroughs? I think it finally is - at least to my non-medical brain.

Anyway, two new advances have popped into my little realm recently.

1. Fibromyalgia has been very hard to diagnose. There is no test. There is no real way to say yes or no you have it. Basically if you have pain at enough of certain pressure points combined with other symptoms, they say 'you have fibro'. Not a very technical way to do things.

There are little thingies in us called 'cytokines' (not that I really know what they do) but apparently it now seems they have seen that people with fibro have a significantly lower level of this cytokine. Hence they may be able to develop a test. This would be nice to have something definable. As long as it works. I mean there are tests for RA but 25% of patients with RA test negative on them.

They are also leaning towards saying that fibro is not a rheumatological illness but a neuro-immune ailment, different than RA.

2. There is a genetic element to rheumatoid arthritis as well. Where they are finding little regulatory tags in the white blood cells of patients with RA. Basically this means they are finding a switch that makes good cells go bad and let you get RA. And they don't even need to be near by they can be far away in your body, caused to switch by a medication or illness.

So this means they will be able to tell ahead who might be more likely to get RA and take preventative steps and increased monitoring.

I know this is all very technical and you can read the articles I have linked to for lots more science but we can call it progress I think.

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