There is no getting away from it. Our genes not only determine what color eyes we have and how tall we get, among other things, but it is increasingly obvious that our genetic makeup controls many health problems. I cannot read one pulmonary journal that
does not contain at least one article about genetic mutations that are associated with one phase of a disease or another.
In my latest review of one journal I read about certain genetic markers in patients with pulmonary fibrosis (a scarring disease of the lung). This disease is highly unpredictable, making treatment ineffective. The disease is usually fatal in 3-3½ years. In lung cancer, certain genetic mutations can be tested and can now be used to guide therapy. Pulmonary hypertension (elevation of the blood pressure inside the blood
vessels of the lungs) can be caused by genetic defects, and other gene defects may help find patients with certain forms of this disease. These were only three articles in pulmonary medicine that I read last week. Think of all the other research being done with other diseases.
The question most of you would ask is: What are we doing with this information. Unfortunately, we really do not have anything we can do in most instances since we are unable to translate many of these findings into a treatment. However, finding these genetic links to disease will ultimately lead to therapies and some cures.
Until then, I urge you to choose your parents carefully!