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Dictionary

Below, you will find a mini-dictionary as well as frequent ethical issues regarding donors in the field of genomics.

What is an anti-cancer vaccine
What are bioinformatics
What is epidemiology
What is genetic epidemiology
What is genomics
What is a microorganism
What are 'omics technologies




● What is an anti-cancer vaccine
Vaccines are medical treatments employed to stimulate the body’s immune system. After treatment, the immune system will quickly and effectively be able to fight off whatever the person was vaccinated against, for instance certain microorganisms. A vaccine contains a safe and non-contagious version of the microorganism that the body needs protection from. The vaccine ensures that the body will be able to recognize the microorganism later on. Within the field of anti-cancer vaccines, today there are vaccines against hepatitis B (which may cause liver cancer) and the two most common papillomaviruses (which may cause cervical cancer).

● What are bioinformatics
The term bioinformatics stands for the use of computers in the processing and analysis of biological data. Bioinformatics specialists are scientists, who develop and utilize computer-based methods to collect, organize and analyse large amounts of data. This field is indispensable when it comes to the handling genetic data, and sequencing often results in massive amounts of data. When data from many different genomes is collected and compared, there are high standards regarding the design of computer methods and access to super computers.

● What is epidemiology
Epidemiology is a field of research, which focuses on examining the occurrence and distribution of disorders and other health matters. Epidemiology strives to discover what influences health matters on a population level. Thus, the field concerns information at the population level and not specific aspects of the health of individuals. Today, epidemiology is the most important subject with regards to preventive medicine and epidemiology methods are often applied in clinical research.

● What is genetic epidemiology
Genetic epidemiology focuses on the importance of genetic factors within families and large populations with regards to health and sickness. Compared to epidemiology (described above), genetic epidemiology strives to discover how hereditary factors and environmental factors interact.

● What are genomics
The entire order of the genetic letters in an organism is called the genome. The research field dealing with genomes and their structures is called genomics. A diploid human genome has two copies of each gene (on 46 chromosomes) and consists of six billion genetic letters. The genome includes around 20,000 genes, of which the protein coding regions make up for less than 2 %. The parts of the genome that help control where and when genes are active make up about half of the genome. The function of most of the remaining part of the genome is still largely unknown.

● What is a microorganism
The term microorganism is a common name for organisms so small that a microscope is required to see them. Usually, this term covers the single-celled organisms, bacteria, fungi, protozoa and viruses.

● What are ’omics technologies
Genomics information is often fundamental for biomolecular studies, since many physiological features of organisms are basically determined by their genetic material. Yet, this genetic material can be expressed and regulated in many different ways. Therefore, genomics information often isn’t enough to diagnose the state of an organism definitely. Other technologies such as epigenetics, transcriptomics, proteomics, metagenomics and metabolomics are often used in thorough analyses, too. 'Omics' is used as the common name for these methods that all treat and analyse large amounts of biological molecules. Each method analyses one overall type of biological molecule (such as DNA, RNA or protein). These technologies all provide large amounts of data that require bioinformatics methods for analysis and interpretation. The approach for such methods is to look at many biological variables at once.





What is a pathogen
What is a platform
What is a reference genome
What is sequencing
Which questions can sequencing and bioinformatics answer
How much can we conclude from genomics
today




● What is a pathogen
In the Cancer&Pathogen demonstration project, the term is used to define the microorganisms that can cause human illnesses.

● What is a platform
In relation to GenomeDenmark, the platform concept is defined as one of the Innovation Foundation's (previously the Danish Advanced Technology Foundation) structures for collaboration. It is a specific organisational structure, under which a certain technology-dependent field can be advanced through the access to high-tech equipment and trans-sector cooperation. Through public support, a Danish consortium, consisting of knowledge institutions and private firms, has the opportunity to establish focused cooperation within a limited field of research. For instance, support is granted for expensive and specialized research equipment and staff. A key objective is the development of new and commercially relevant technology platforms in areas where Danish research is strong.
Read more at the website of the Innovation Fund


● What is a reference genome
A reference genome is a kind of average genome consisting of DNA information from a large group of people within the same geographic area. Two persons, whose families have lived in Denmark for generations, are expected to share more DNA features than two people from areas far apart.

● What is sequencing
Sequencing is a technology that reads how the genetic material of organisms is structured. This material often consists of long molecules (deoxyribonucleic acid). DNA is subdivided in genes that can be categorized as long strings of genetic letters in a certain order. This order determines the development of each organism, appearance and response to, for instance, environmental factors and illness. Sequencing analyse the structure of the genetic material by reading the order of genetic letters one letter at a time. Sequencing can (through application of additional methods) also be exploited to analyse an organism’s expression of RNA, that provides information concerning the activity of specific genes within a given period.

● Which questions can sequencing and bioinformatics answer
Sequencing and bioinformatics are central technologies and methods in modern research, development and production within the sciences related to biology. Using these methods, one can achieve thorough knowledge of gene structures within single organisms. This knowledge helps one to better understand how organisms function in different situations. For instance, genetic tests have been carried out in hospitals for years in order to give more specific diagnoses or to select the correct type of medicine. In the future, scientists expect to be able to utilize genomic information in the treatment of illnesses and counselling of individuals regarding life style choices.

● How much can we conclude from genomics
today

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