According to the conclusions of a new scientific investigation, it may be possible to correct a certain class of unfavorable genetic mutations through dieting. Scientists at the University of California in Berkeley (UCB) were able to demonstrate that lifestyle can actually alter a person's genetic makeup.
Granted, this does not work for all mutations. Details of how the connection works were published in the April issue of the esteemed journal Genetics. The research was focused on the human cystathionine beta synthase gene.
UCB investigators looked at different variations of the gene, and then set out to determine how each of these mutations reacts to a vitamin-based treatment. This particular gene is known to cause the disease called homocystinuria.
The latter is an inherited metabolic disorder, which can be treated using vitamin B6, but only in some cases. The investigation allowed the team to associate certain mutations with the severity of homocystinuria, potentially opening the way for research into new courses of treatment.
The work is very important because it highlights a mechanism through which genetically induced disorders, such as neural tube defect, cleft palate, and blindness can be addressed through a simple method – dieting.
“The era of personal genome sequences is upon us, but there is a growing gap between the ability to sequence human genomes and the ability to understand the significance of variation in genome sequences,” Jasper Rine, PhD, explains.
“This study demonstrates one way to close the gap; the data separate gene variants into distinct classes, including a group amenable to dietary intervention,” adds the scientist, who was the principal investigator on the new study.
Rine holds an appointment with the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at the UCB California Institute of Quantitative Biosciences. He explains that 84 variations of the cystathionine beta synthase gene were investigated for this research.
“We may have the DNA sequence of the human genome, but we’re still trying to figure out what it means,” explains the Editor-in-Chief of the journal Genetics, Mark Johnston, quoted by News Wise
“This study moves us a step closer toward better understanding the genetic variability among people. More immediately, knowledge of these gene mutations will help physicians prescribe treatment based on genotype rather than outward symptoms or trial and error,” he concludes.