Genetic Health Glossary

Here you can find an alphabetically arranged glossary of terms
relating to Genetic Predisposition DNA testing that are used
throughout our website.

Genetic Predisposition DNA Testing Glossary


Arteries: Arteries are blood vessels that carry blood away from the heart. All arteries, with the exception of the pulmonary and umbilical arteries, carry oxygenated blood. The circulatory system is extremely important for sustaining life. Its proper functioning is responsible for the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to all cells, as well as the removal of carbon dioxide and waste products, maintenance of optimum pH, and the mobility of the elements, proteins and cells of the immune system. In developed countries, the two leading causes of death, myocardial infarction and stroke each may directly result from an arterial system that has been slowly and progressively compromised by years of deterioration
Autoimmunity: Autoimmunity is the failure of an organism to recognize its own constituent parts as self, which allows an immune response against its own cells and tissues. Any disease that results from such an aberrant immune response is termed an autoimmune disease.


Basal Cell Carcinoma: Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer. It rarely metastasizes or kills, but it is still considered malignant because it can cause significant destruction and disfigurement by invading surrounding tissues. Statistically, approximately 3 out of 10 Caucasians develop a basal cell cancer within their lifetime. In 80 percent of all cases, basal cell cancers are found on the head and neck. There appears to be an increase in the incidence of basal cell cancer of the trunk in recent years.


Cartilage: Cartilage is a type of dense connective tissue existing within many joints. It is composed of specialized cells that produce a large amount of extracellular matrix composed of collagen fibres, abundant ground substance rich in proteoglycan, and elastin fibres. Cartilage is classified in three types, elastic cartilage, hyaline cartilage and fibrocartilage, which differ in the relative amounts of these three main components.


Dementia: Dementia is a cognitive impairment. It may be static, the result of a unique global brain injury or progressive, resulting in long-term decline in cognitive function due to damage or disease in the body beyond what might be expected from normal aging. Although dementia is far more common in the geriatric population, it may occur in any stage of adulthood. This age cut-off is defining, as similar sets of symptoms due to a dysfunction, are given different names in populations younger than adult.
Disease: An abnormal condition of an organism that impairs bodily functions, associated with specific symptoms and signs. It may be caused by external factors, such as invading organisms, or it may be caused by internal dysfunctions, such as autoimmune diseases. In human beings, “disease” is often used more broadly to refer to any condition that causes extreme pain, dysfunction, distress, social problems, and/or death to the person afflicted, or similar problems for those in contact with the person. In this broader sense, it sometimes includes injuries, disabilities, disorders, syndromes, infections, isolated symptoms, deviant behaviours, and atypical variations of structure and function, while in other contexts and for other purposes these may be considered distinguishable categories.
Disease Incidence: Incidence is a measure of the risk of developing some new condition within a specified period of time.
Deoxyribonucleic acid: A nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms and some viruses. The main role of DNA molecules is the long-term storage of information. DNA is often compared to a set of blueprints or a recipe, or a code, since it contains the instructions needed to construct other components of cells, such as proteins and RNA molecules. The DNA segments that carry this genetic information are called genes, but other DNA sequences have structural purposes, or are involved in regulating the use of this genetic information.
DNA Marker: A gene or DNA sequence with a known location on a chromosome and associated with a particular gene or trait. It can be described as a variation, which may arise due to mutation or alteration in the genomic loci, that can be observed. A genetic marker may be a short DNA sequence, such as a sequence surrounding a single base-pair change (single nucleotide polymorphism, SNP), or a long one, like minisatellites.


Epidemiology: Epidemiology is the study of factors affecting the health and illness of populations, and serves as the foundation and logic of interventions made in the interest of public health and preventive medicine. It is considered a cornerstone methodology of public health research, and is highly regarded in evidence-based medicine for identifying risk factors for disease and determining optimal treatment approaches to clinical practice.
Exogenous: In biology, an exogenous factor is any material that is present and active in an individual organism or living cell but that originated outside of that organism, as opposed to an endogenous factor.


Gene: A gene is the basic unit of heredity in a living organism. All living things contain genes. Genes hold the information to build and maintain their cells and pass genetic traits to offspring.
Genetic Counselling: The process by which patients or relatives, at risk of an inherited disorder, are advised of the consequences and nature of the disorder, the probability of developing or transmitting it, and the options open to them in management and family planning in order to prevent, avoid or ameliorate it. This complex process can be seen from diagnostic (the actual estimation of risk) and supportive aspects.
Genotype: The genotype is the genetic constitution of a cell, an organism, or an individual (i.e. the specific allele makeup of the individual) usually with reference to a specific character under consideration. For instance, the human albino gene has two allele forms, dominant A and recessive a, and there are three possible genotypes- AA (homozygous dominant), Aa (heterozygous), and aa (homozygous recessive).


HapMap Project: The International HapMap Project is an organization whose goal is to develop a haplotype map of the human genome (HapMap), which will describe the common patterns of human genetic variation. The HapMap is expected to be a key resource for researchers to find genetic variants affecting health, disease and responses to drugs and environmental factors. The information produced by the project is made freely available to researchers around the world.
Haemorrhage: Bleeding, technically known as haemorrhaging is the loss of blood from the circulatory system. Bleeding can occur internally, where blood leaks from blood vessels inside the body or externally, either through a natural opening such as the vagina, mouth, nose, or anus, or through a break in the skin. The complete loss of blood is referred to as exsanguination, and desanguination is a massive blood loss. Typically, a healthy person can endure a loss of 10-15% of the total blood volume without serious medical difficulties and blood donation typically takes 8-10% of the donor’s blood volume.
Human Genome: The human genome is the genome of Homo sapiens, which is stored on 23 chromosome pairs. Twenty-two of these are autosomal chromosome pairs, while the remaining pair is sex-determining. The haploid human genome occupies a total of just over 3 billion DNA base pairs. The Human Genome Project (HGP) produced a reference sequence, which is used worldwide in biomedical sciences.
Hyperacusis: Hyperacusis is a health condition characterized by an over-sensitivity to certain frequency ranges of sound (a collapsed tolerance to normal environmental sound). A person with severe hyperacusis has difficulty tolerating everyday sounds, some of which may seem unpleasantly loud to that person but not to others. The most common sound to appear unpleasant in hyperacusis is people eating or clicking their fingers.


Infarction: In medicine, an infarction is the process of tissue death (necrosis) caused by blockage of the tissue’s blood supply. The supplying artery may be blocked by an obstruction (e.g. an embolus, thrombus, or atherosclerotic plaque), may be mechanically compressed (e.g. tumour, volvulus, or hernia), ruptured by trauma (e.g. atherosclerosis or vasculitides), or vasoconstricted (e.g. cocaine vasoconstriction leading to myocardial infarction).
Inflammation: Inflammation is the complex biological response of vascular tissues to harmful stimuli, such as pathogens, damaged cells, or irritants. It is a protective attempt by the organism to remove the injurious stimuli as well as initiate the healing process for the tissue. Inflammation is not a synonym for infection.
Insulin: Insulin is a hormone that has extensive effects on metabolism and other body functions, such as vascular compliance. Insulin causes cells in the liver, muscle, and fat tissue to take up glucose from the blood, storing it as glycogen in the liver and muscle, and stopping use of fat as an energy source. When insulin is absent (or low), glucose is not taken up by body cells, and the body begins to use fat as an energy source, for example, by transfer of lipids from adipose tissue to the liver for mobilization as an energy source. As its level is a central metabolic control mechanism, its status is also used as a control signal to other body systems (such as amino acid uptake by body cells). It has several other anabolic effects throughout the body. When control of insulin levels fails, diabetes mellitus results.


Malignant Growth: Cancer (medical term: malignant neoplasm, malignant growth) is a class of diseases in which a group of cells display uncontrolled growth (division beyond the normal limits), invasion (intrusion on and destruction of adjacent tissues), and sometimes metastasis (spread to other locations in the body via lymph or blood). These three malignant properties of cancers differentiate them from benign tumours, which are self-limited, and do not invade or metastasize. Most cancers form a tumour but some, like leukaemia, do not. The branch of medicine concerned with the study, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of cancer is oncology.
Metastasis: Metastatic disease, sometimes abbreviated mets, is the spread of a disease from one organ or part to another non-adjacent organ or part. Only malignant tumour cells and infections have the established capacity to metastasize; however, this is recently reconsidered by new research.
Molecular test: A laboratory test based on the analysis of DNA or large molecules.
Mutation: In biology, mutations are changes to the nucleotide sequence of the genetic material of an organism. Mutations can be caused by copying errors in the genetic material during cell division, by exposure to ultraviolet or ionizing radiation, chemical mutagens, viruses, or can be induced by the organism itself, by cellular processes such as hyper mutation.


Neurology: Neurology is a medical specialty dealing with disorders of the nervous system. Specifically, it deals with the diagnosis and treatment of all categories of disease involving the central, peripheral, and autonomic nervous systems, including their coverings, blood vessels, and all effector tissue, such as muscle. The corresponding surgical specialty is neurosurgery. A neurologist is a physician (not a surgeon) who specializes in neurology, and is trained to investigate, or diagnose and treat, neurological disorders.


Oesophagus: The oesophagus, sometimes known as the gullet, is an organ in vertebrates which consists of a muscular tube through which food passes from the pharynx to the stomach.


Pancreas: The pancreas is a gland organ in the digestive and endocrine system of vertebrates. It is both an endocrine gland producing several important hormones, including insulin, glucagon, and somatostatin, as well as an exocrine gland, secreting pancreatic juice containing digestive enzymes that pass to the small intestine. These enzymes help in the further breakdown of the carbohydrates, protein, and fat in the chyme.
Photophobia: Photophobia is a symptom of excessive sensitivity to light and the aversion to sunlight or well-lit places. In ordinary medical terms photophobia is not a morbid fear, but an experience of discomfort or pain to the eyes due to light exposure.
Predisposition: A genetic predisposition is a genetic effect which influences the phenotype of an organism but which can be modified by the environmental conditions. Genetic testing is able to identify individuals who are genetically predisposed to certain health problems.


Revascularization: Revascularization is “a surgical procedure for the provision of a new, additional, or augmented blood supply to a body part or organ.” The term derives from the prefix re-, in this case meaning “restoration” and vasculature, which refers to the circulatory structures of an organ. Revascularization involves a thorough analysis and diagnosis and treatment of the existing diseased vasculature of the affected organ, and can be aided by the use of different imaging modalities such as magnetic resonance imaging, PET scan, CT scan, and X-ray fluoroscopy.


SNP (Single Nucleotide Polymorphism): A DNA sequence variation occurring when a single nucleotide – A, T, C, or G – in the genome (or other shared sequence) differs between members of a species (or between paired chromosomes in an individual). For example, two sequenced DNA fragments from different individuals, AAGCCTA to AAGCTTA, contain a difference in a single nucleotide. In this case we say that there are two alleles: C and T. Almost all common SNPs have only two alleles.
Subchondral Bone: The epiphysis is the rounded end of a long bone, at its joint with adjacent bone(s). Between the epiphysis and diaphysis (the long midsection of the long bone) lies the metaphysis, including the epiphyseal plate (growth plate). At the joint, the epiphysis is covered with articular cartilage; below that covering is a zone similar to the epiphyseal plate, known as subchondral bone.
Syndrome: In medicine and psychology, the term syndrome refers to the association of several clinically recognizable features, signs (observed by a physician), symptoms (reported by the patient), phenomena or characteristics that often occur together, so that the presence of one feature alerts the physician to the presence of the others. In recent decades the term has been used outside of medicine to refer to a combination of phenomena seen in association.


Thrombus: A thrombus, or blood clot, is the final product of the blood coagulation step in haemostasis. It is achieved via the aggregation of platelets that form a platelet plug, and the activation of the humoral coagulation system (i.e. clotting factors). A thrombus is normal in cases of injury, but pathologic in instances of thrombosis.
Thyroid: The thyroid is one of the largest endocrine glands in the body. This gland is found in the neck inferior to (below) the thyroid cartilage (also known as the Adam’s apple in men) and at approximately the same level as the cricoid cartilage. The thyroid controls how quickly the body burns energy, makes proteins, and how sensitive the body should be to other hormones.


Variation (Genetics): Genetic diversity is a level of biodiversity that refers to the total number of genetic characteristics in the genetic makeup of a species. It is distinguished from genetic variability, which describes the tendency of genetic characteristics to vary.
Venous Thromboembolism: Venous thromboembolism is the formation of a blood clot (thrombus) inside a blood vessel, obstructing the flow of blood through the circulatory system. It can result in deprivation of oxygen in the adjacent area, and infarction, a mode of cell death.

Speak To International Biosciences About Genetic Predisposition DNA Testing

International Biosciences provide Genetic Predisposition testing to determine your genetic predisposition for important health conditions including cancers, cardiovascular conditions, diabetes and obesity. Knowing which genetic disorders and diseases you are at risk from will allow you to plan to reduce it by making lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise. Contact International Biosciences for more information.

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