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Human genome

The complete sequence of all 20,000-25,000 human genes. That is, which chromosomes they are in and whereabouts the gene appears on that chromosome's piece of DNA.

Cholesterol

A lipid which can be measured in the blood. High levels are linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease

Statins

Medicines which help to lower the blood cholesterol levels and balance the good and bad cholesterol

Insulin

A hormone produced by the pancreas. It allows cells in the body to take in and store glucose.

Different types of medicines

There are many different types of medicines available to us today, some of which cure diseases while others make us feel better and able to carry on with our lives. They include:

  • Medicines which destroy infectious organisms, e.g. antibiotics.
  • Medicines which relieve symptoms but do not destroy pathogens, e.g. different kinds of pain killers such as ibuprofen, paracetamol.
  • Medicines which destroy cancer cells. Anticancer medicines are often given in combination, e.g. mitomycin, ifosfamide and cisplatin (MIC).
  • Medicines which change the chemistry of the blood eg statins which help reduce cholesterol levels.
  • Medicines which replace missing chemicals in the blood, e.g. insulin.
  • Personalised medicines are medicines which are prescribed using information from studies of the human genome to identify the best medicine to use for a particular genotype. Particular groups of people, or particular types of cancers, will be given specific drugs. Medicine will be stratified so that everyone gets the medicine which will works best for them based on genetic information rather than trial and error. Not only will this mean people are treated more successfully but also the risk of unpleasant side effects will be kept to a minimum.
DNA double helix

As our understanding of the human genome grows it may be possible to produce personalised medicines for everyone
Courtesy: Peter Artymiuk/Wellcome Images