DNA is Fundamental to Life (02:36)
Host John Watt introduces genetics with biochemist Tony Merriman. A model of a deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) molecule shows its helix structure and nucleotides. Learn the difference between a gene and the genome.
What Genes Do (01:09)
Genes affect how our bodies work and how we look. Genes are like a blueprint for building a house. DNA's basic structure is shared across the animal kingdom. Human DNA is 96% identical to chimpanzees, our closest relative.
Genetics and Gout (03:09)
Tony Merriman is researching the genetics of gout. The goal is to understand how genes work with the environment to cause disease in susceptible people. They have identified a gene called SLC2A9 that could be implicated in gout.
Genetics and Heart Disease (02:09)
Vicky Cameron studies the genetics of heart disease. Family history accounts for half of heart disease risk. She is researching whether genetics is a factor in recovery. The patients she follows learn to minimize lifestyle risk factors.
Non-Coding / Junk DNA and Heart Disease Susceptibility (02:12)
This part of the genome is implicated in making people more susceptible to heart disease. Vicky Cameron studies how carrying a variant form of junk DNA affects other genes in heart tissue. The research also looks at RNA (ribonucleic acid).
Genetics and Mental Illness (02:09)
Martin Kennedy researches how genes affect mood disorders and how to improve treatment. Kennedy compares DNA of people with and without mental illness, and tests antidepressants on cell cultures. He explains his methodology.
Biochemistry of Mood Disorders (01:58)
In the brain's biochemical pathways, a chemical called BH4, involved in the production of neurotransmitters, is influenced by antidepressant drugs. Martin Kennedy studies how valproic acid alters gene expressions.
Genetics and Obesity (01:23)
Christine Jasoni studies how the maternal environment affects the development of the fetal brain, specifically, how obese or diabetic mothers may change the gene expression of their offspring, making them susceptible to obesity.
Effects of Calorie Intake on Fetal Brain Development (02:37)
Laboratory experiments confirm Christine Jasoni's hypothesis. Examination shows that the brain structures of the offspring of obese mother rodents are changed, making them more susceptible to obesity.
Genetics or Environment? (02:03)
The scientists featured in the program weigh in on the nature vs. nurture question. All agree both nature and nurture are important. The goal is to learn more about how the two interact.
Credits: What Is Science Doing to Understand Genetics? Ever Wondered? (Series 2) (00:31)
Credits: What Is Science Doing to Understand Genetics? Ever Wondered? (Series 2)
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