Table of Contents
Advances in Biology
Volume 2014, Article ID 471836, 16 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/471836
Review Article

Advances in Human Biology: Combining Genetics and Molecular Biophysics to Pave the Way for Personalized Diagnostics and Medicine

Computational Biophysics and Bioinformatics, Department of Physics, Clemson University, Clemson, SC 29634, USA

Received 29 January 2014; Revised 23 April 2014; Accepted 17 June 2014; Published 7 July 2014

Academic Editor: Yinan Wei

Copyright © 2014 Emil Alexov. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Advances in several biology-oriented initiatives such as genome sequencing and structural genomics, along with the progress made through traditional biological and biochemical research, have opened up a unique opportunity to better understand the molecular effects of human diseases. Human DNA can vary significantly from person to person and determines an individual’s physical characteristics and their susceptibility to diseases. Armed with an individual’s DNA sequence, researchers and physicians can check for defects known to be associated with certain diseases by utilizing various databases. However, for unclassified DNA mutations or in order to reveal molecular mechanism behind the effects, the mutations have to be mapped onto the corresponding networks and macromolecular structures and then analyzed to reveal their effect on the wild type properties of biological processes involved. Predicting the effect of DNA mutations on individual’s health is typically referred to as personalized or companion diagnostics. Furthermore, once the molecular mechanism of the mutations is revealed, the patient should be given drugs which are the most appropriate for the individual genome, referred to as pharmacogenomics. Altogether, the shift in focus in medicine towards more genomic-oriented practices is the foundation of personalized medicine. The progress made in these rapidly developing fields is outlined.