Written by Howard Epstein, PhD, Director of Technical Services – EMD Performance Materials Corporation
INTRODUCTION TO GENE EXPRESSION
Just prior to the initiation of The Human Genome Project (HGP) that began in 1990 (1990-2003), publications in the press predicted that with the sequencing of the human genome, cures for many of the diseases of man would be discovered. The reality is that a large part of the early work was devoted to the development of more efficient techniques to elucidate the genome. The goal of the project was to analyze the structure of human DNA and determine the location of all human genes. DNA from model organisms other than human were studied to provide comparative information to understand the functioning of the human genome. Initially it was too costly to sequence whole human genomes. For this reason, the investigators decided to study sites on the genome where many people have a variant DNA unit. This project called HapMap focused on cataloging common variants found in European, Asian and African genomes. See here for more information.
GENE EXPRESSION AND THE COSMETICS INDUSTRY
Since the conclusion of the Human Genome Project, studies of DNA variation have enabled genetic testing that can show a predisposition to a variety of illnesses.
Genetic testing has expanded to the cosmetics industry for evaluation of ingredients that can be optimally paired with consumers based on a gene analysis of the individual.
Currently one typically formulates for the average consumer, the aim of personalized skin care is to match each person with a formulation that will work best for that individual. To formulate personalized products, one needs to consider how variations in our genes influence our skin. Consider genetic variations that contribute to height, hair and skin color. It is known that different skin types respond differently to radiation including UVB UVA and blue light. While not completely understood, biological pathways that are responsible for these variations are constantly being identified.
Two example patents/patent application are;
1. Skin appearance through gene manipulation
US 8859021 B2 Application Number US20090036545, dated 10/14/14
2. Methods and Systems for Improving Skin Condition
International Publication Number WO/2017/083576, dated 05/18/17
Factors from the environment, our diets and lifestyle also influence our health and skin and the genes that interact with these influences need to be considered as well in formulating personalized products. Environment, diet and lifestyle have an influence on each person’s epigenetically- controlled gene expression. Many of these genes are identified, knowing how epigenetic gene expression may be modified by alteration of diet, lifestyle and targeted care. Epigenetic changes can help determine whether genes are turned on or off and influence the production of proteins in certain cells. The mechanism of epigenetics ensures that one’s DNA is not necessarily their destiny.
SAFEGUARDING PERSONAL GENETIC INFORMATION
Safeguarding of personal health information is of the upmost concern. The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) enacted in 2008 was intended to protect Americans from discrimination based on their genetic information in both health insurance and employment. The Act prohibits health insurers from engaging in genetic discrimination.