Are characteristics of a person mainly due to the genes of the DNA? Or do people mainly become who they are through all kinds of environmental factors that influence the functioning of their genes? In epigenetics, scientists carefully examine how our genes and environmental factors influence each other and together ensure that we are who we are. The largest of these studies is the Twinstudy UK project. For more than twenty years, this institute has been looking for answers among no fewer than 12,000 different twins
This discussion in science searches for the causes of differences between human characteristics. Do people suffer from a certain condition because they live an unhealthy lifestyle (nurture) or is it simply in their genes (nature)? According to the natural line of thought, properties are mainly pre-programmed.
Twin Study Uk
To search for clues in the debate between genetics and environmental factors, scientists have used studies of (usually identical) twins for many decades. Identical twins are genetically similar and therefore so interesting to study. Twins have the same DNA in all the cells of both their bodies, which is why comparing can provide so many insights.
The largest of these studies is the Twinstudy UK project. For more than twenty years, this institute has been looking for answers among no fewer than 12,000 different twins. They are investigating which are the main genes or environmental factors that make certain twins become very similar people, or not at all.
Because twins are so similar, it is easy to notice small differences in development or behavior. After many years of research on twins, it seems clear that neither side of science is quite right. Most differences between people, or, for example, the development of certain disorders, are influenced by both genes and environmental factors. Almost everything that makes a person a person has to do with genes and with lifestyle and living environment.
These findings led to the development of a new scientific subfield of genetics: epigenetics. In epigenetics, scientists study how certain environmental factors influence genes. One possible line of thought can be compared to a piece of music.
Thus, the manifestation or influence of certain genes may increase, while others may decrease. This opens up new perspectives for drug development. The action of certain genes can be stopped or reduced under certain circumstances. For example, someone with a low pain threshold could achieve a higher pain threshold through medication by switching off a certain gene.
The epigenetics of a person, ie which genetic characteristics become stronger and which weaker, can be changed. Your genes are given that cannot be changed easily. However, the epigenetic expression of your genes is very modifiable. Many different environmental factors can make genes ‘louder’ or ‘softer’: exercise, smoking, eating and drinking, and social environment can all be influenced to change the epigenetic expression of a person’s genes.