How DNA Tests Have Changed Medicine
If there is one field that has undergone tremendous changes over the decades, it is medicine. Through the use of technology and scientific discoveries, today’s medical accomplishments are unbelievable. Whether creating a vaccine for the COVID-19 pandemic, developing new medications to help with conditions and diseases once thought to be hopeless, or other areas, medicine is one field where change is a good thing. However, few things have changed medicine as dramatically as DNA testing. If you’re ready to learn just how DNA testing has changed medicine over the years, here are a few of the most important ways.
Risk of Developing Diseases
For many people who have had family histories of various types of cancers or other serious medical conditions, there is always a nagging question of whether or not they at some point will also be dealing with these health issues. Thanks to DNA testing, these questions can now be answered. Also called genetic testing within medical circles, these tests can now be used to determine if a person carries certain genes within their DNA makeup that predispose them to developing certain conditions or diseases.
While many advances have been made in the treatment of various types of cancer, researchers still have much more to learn about this disease. Fortunately, DNA testing has helped them make many positive strides in recent years. One of the most important breakthroughs has been in tumor DNA sequencing, which helps to identify how a person’s cancer has contributed to different types of genetic alterations. By doing so, doctors can examine the data and thus formulate treatment plans that can be much more effective at eliminating the cancer or sending it into remission for an extended period of time.
As DNA testing has become more advanced, doctors and scientists have also been able to use it to help determine which medications may work best for a patient. Known as drug-gene testing, this form of DNA testing will examine how a patient’s body processes medications when they are administered. In doing so, doctors can gain a much better idea if a patient is more likely to suffer serious side effects before prescribing a medication.
Whenever there is a question of who may be a child’s father, DNA testing is often used to find the answers. Whereas in years past blood tests may have proved to be inconclusive in many situations, that is not the case today. By using only small samples of blood and saliva, DNA testing can determine the identity of a child’s father with almost 100% accuracy.
When police are trying to solve a murder, they often turn to forensic pathologists who are skilled in using DNA testing to get answers to their most complex questions. Through the use of this form of testing, detectives can often learn how a person died, what time they may have died, and what substances may have been in their systems at the time of their death. Used to solve decades-old cases, DNA testing is now viewed by most courts around the world as a very reliable source of evidence.
When a woman is planning to become pregnant, she can now undergo certain types of DNA testing to help her learn if the pregnancy will be easy or difficult. Since the testing can detect genes that may indicate the possible development of certain conditions during pregnancy, a woman can make a much more informed decision than in years past. In addition, DNA testing can also be used to help determine if the baby born to the woman may be at greater risk of developing certain serious conditions.
Able to provide answers to the most difficult medical questions, DNA testing has gone from the stuff of science-fiction to modern-day fact. In doing so, it has opened up the door to even more possibilities in the years ahead.