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What is Genetic Analysis?

By Jason C. Chavis
Updated May 17, 2024
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Genetic analysis is the overall process of studying and researching in fields of science that involve genetics and molecular biology. There are a number of applications that are developed from this research and these are also considered parts of the process. The base system of analysis revolves around general genetics. Basic studies include identification of genes and inherited disorders. This research has been conducted for centuries on both a large-scale physical observation basis and on a more microscopic scale.

Much of the research that set the foundation of genetic analysis began in prehistoric times. Early humans found that they could practice selective breeding to improve crops and animals. They also identified inherited traits in humans that were eliminated over the years.

Modern genetic analysis began in the mid-1800s with research conducted by Gregor Mendel. Lacking the basic understanding of heredity, Mendel observed various organisms and found that traits were inherited from parents and those traits could vary between children. Later, it was found that units within each cell are responsible for these traits. These units are called genes. Each gene is defined by a series of amino acids that create proteins responsible for genetic traits.

Certain advancements have been made in the field of genetics and molecular biology through the process of genetic analysis. One of the most prevalent advancements during the late 20th and early 21st centuries is a greater understanding of cancer's link to genetics. This research has been able to identify the concepts of genetic mutations, fusion genes and changes in DNA copy numbers.

DNA sequencing is essential to the applications of genetic analysis. This process is used to determine the order of nucleotide bases. Each molecule of DNA is made from adenine, guanine, cytosine and thymine, which determine what function the genes will posses. This was first discovered during the 1970s.

A variety of other types of research associated with genetic studies. Cytogenetics, the study of chromosomes and their function within cells, helps identify abnormalities. Polymerase chain reaction studies the amplification of DNA. Karyotyping uses a system of studying chromosomes to identify genetic abnormalities and evolutionary changes in the past.

Much of these applications have led to new types of sciences that use the foundations of genetic analysis. Reverse genetics uses the methods to determine what is missing in a genetic code or what can be added to change that code. Genetic linkage studies analyze the spacial arrangements of genes and chromosomes. There have also been studies to determine the legal and social effects of the increase of genetic analysis.

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Discussion Comments
By Mor — On Jul 11, 2012

@croydon - Genetic analysis in its most primitive form has been done for generations. Just looking at cattle and realizing that a big one will produce big calves is genetic analysis. We've just developed more sophisticated techniques. I don't think eugenics is a great idea either, but I don't know where we can draw the line.

It's all very well to say that people simply shouldn't analyze themselves but at what point do you stop them? If they know there's a bad gene in the family, like Huntington's for example, they can decide not to have biological children and spare another generation from that kind of terrible genetic diversity.

This is a bird that's already flown. The only way forward is to develop new ethics that will incorporate this technology in a way that won't end up being a step back for humanity, but, rather a step forward.

By croydon — On Jul 11, 2012

@indigomoth - Personally, I don't think that people should go looking for genetic disorders. Even if you get the all clear, you might still develop something. In fact you might be more likely to develop something, since if you get the all clear you might decide to stop being so healthy.

Environment plays a huge part in human identity. If we had a clone of Einstein there's no guarantee that he'd be so smart or even want to think about maths and physics. Genetics is not predestination, is my point.

I really hate hearing about people who discover that their fetus may develop a genetic disorder and have it aborted. I'm not against abortion in general, but I feel that kind of genetic analysis comes too close to eugenics and that's a very very slippery slope.

By indigomoth — On Jul 10, 2012

I find it incredible that these days you can send off a sample of saliva and get a complete genetic analysis back within a few weeks. There's a company that will even keep your genes on file so that every time they make a new breakthrough they can email you and let you know if you have the gene for whatever it is.

I'm saving up so that I can have this kind of analysis for genetic diseases done on me. We've got all kinds of cancer and things in my family and I'd rather know if I have higher chances of contracting anything in particular. Plus they can analyze your DNA to see where your ancestors came from and even if you have anyone famous in your background.

It's just such an exciting idea to me, and I think it's also very useful if you're thinking about having children, since you never know what you might be passing on to them.

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