Gene Expression: DNA to Protein
Most genes contain the information needed to make functional molecules called proteins. When the information stored in our DNA is converted into instructions for making proteins or other molecules, it is called gene expression.
DNA microarrays and sequencing technologies are used to determine gene expression. The former measures the activity of specific genes of interest and the latter enables researchers to determine all active genes in a cell.
Gene expression profiling is used by a variety of biomedical researchers, from molecular biologists to environmental toxicologists. This technology can provide accurate information on gene expression, towards countless experimental goals. There are various practical uses for gene sequencing, including clinical research, drug development, biomarker analysis for treatment decisions, and determining ancestry. Some of these applications are better suited to short- or long-read sequencing. For example, long-read makes sense for complex organisms with little reference data, while short-read is best for analysis of DNA fragments. Increasingly, researchers are combining short- and long-read sequencing to obtain the most accurate results.
Our ability to treat health problems has historically been hamstrung by an incomplete understanding of the role our own genes play in the process. But advances in the accuracy, speed, and affordability of genetic sequencing have led to breakthroughs that could only be imagined a few years ago -- and that's creating exciting opportunities for researchers and investors alike.
Gene mutations cause abnormal or inadequate protein production, it can result in one of over 7,000 distinct types of rare and genetic diseases. About 80% of the estimated 400 million people worldwide with rare diseases are caused by a faulty gene, according to Global Genes. Approximately 3-10% of all hospitalisations (regardless of the patient age) are related to a rare disease, whereas 65% of rare diseases are associated with reduced lifespan. The average time to get an accurate rare disease diagnosis is between six and eight years.
According to Rare Diseases International and EURORDIS ~ rare diseases currently affect at any point in time 3.5% - 5.9% of the worldwide population; 72% are genetic, and of those 70% start in childhood.
In humans, genes vary in size from a few hundred DNA bases to more than 2 million bases. The Human Genome Project estimated that humans have between 20,000 and 25,000 genes. Most genes are the same in all people, but a small number of genes (less than 1 percent of the total) are slightly different between people. Alleles are forms of the same gene with small differences in their sequence of DNA bases. These small differences contribute to each person’s unique physical features.
Up to 10-20% of which may be expressed in a cell at a certain time. The human genome has been completely sequenced by different approaches and huge amounts of data are being presented in public databases. It’s a booming business, with gene sequencing become an integral process in many areas of clinical diagnostics and is the primary technology underpinning the burgeoning field of liquid biopsy tests. Though the costs are at higher end, now the race is on to drive the cost down to US$100 or even lower.
“The Central Dogma” - Information Flow from Nucleic Acid to Protein
Gene expression is a tightly regulated process that allows a cell to respond to its changing environment. It acts as both an on/off switch to control when proteins are made and also a volume control that increases or decreases the number of proteins made.
There are two key steps involved in making a protein, transcription and translation. To live, cells must be able to respond to changes in their environment. Regulation of the two main steps of protein production - transcription and translation - is critical to this adaptability.
Translating a sequence of bases in the RNA to a sequence of amino acids in proteins requires 3 major components: messenger RNA (mRNA), Ribosomes, transfer RNAs (tRNAs)
Gene Expression Can Be Post-transcriptionally and Post-translationally Regulated
Cells can control which genes get transcribed and which transcripts get translated; further, they can biochemically process transcripts and proteins in order to affect their activity. Regulation of transcription and translation occurs in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes, but it is far more complex in eukaryotes.
This coupled transcription and translation can occur because prokaryotes have no nucleus. (In eukaryotes, the nucleus separates the transcription machinery from the translation machinery.)
Information encoded in DNA is transcribed to RNA, and RNA is translated to a linear sequence of amino acids in protein. Although information can flow reversibly between DNA and RNA via transcription and reverse transcription, no mechanism has yet been found for alterations in protein amino acid sequence to somehow effect a corresponding change in the RNA or DNA.
The prospect of using our DNA to inform healthcare decisions is so significant that new players are flocking to this emerging industry all the time. Some are already making good on their potential. However, not all gene-sequencing companies are likely to be winners.
Different categories of companies operating in this field:
Gene therapy is at an inflection point. Recent successes in genetic medicine have paved the path for a broader second wave of therapies and laid the foundation for next-generation technologies.
According to Medicines in Development | 2020 Report:
The outlook for demand for machines and consumables used by them appears very good for these companies. Illumina estimates less than 0.1% of species, 0.02% of humans, and 1% of human variants have been genetically sequenced so far. As gene-sequencing prices drop, drug developers can use it to create ever more personalized medicine, and people will be able to use it to gain a deeper understanding of themselves via their genetic profile.
Top 10 Gene Sequencing Companies by Revenue
Illumina, Thermo Fisher Scientific, BGI Genomics, Agilent Technologies, 10X Genomics, QIAGEN, GENEWIZ (Brooks Automation), Macrogen, Pacific Biosciences of California (PacBio), Oxford Nanopore Technologies.
Bristol Myers Squibb, Roche Holding, Celgene Corporation, Myriad Genetics, Genomic Health, bluebird bio, Inc., Invitae, REGENXBIO Inc., Guardant Health, Gilead Sciences, Novartis AG, Spark Therapeutics, Editas Medicine, CRISPR Therapeutics, PierianDx are the prominent ones.
Drug Developers: Top Companies Revolutionizing Treatment
There are about 700 gene therapies under development in roughly 1,800 clinical trials, about 500 of which are in the middle or late stages, according to Informa Pharma Intelligence's Trialtrove database.
CRISPR as a precise genome editing tool has resulted in the establishment of several CRISPR-based companies, and these companies are changing the landscape of Biotech & Biomed.
On the other hand, Frontiers in Immunology journal reported that researchers at Centre for Psychology at Coventry University in the United Kingdom have uncovered a molecular explanation for the stress-relieving effects of yoga, meditation, and other mind-body practices. They found that mind-body interventions (MBIs) “reverse” changes in our DNA that cause stress.
Key Elements Included In The Study: Global Gene Expression Market
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