Friday, June 1, 2012

ENVIRONMENT MEETS GENOMICS: EXPOSOME – the new buzzword in environmental biology

Our body is exposed  to  agents that can cause / predispose our body to various disorders both internally and externally from conception to death.  The  exogenous sources   of these agents include: air, water, diet, drugs, and radiation while the internal or endogenous source include processes like inflammation, lipid peroxidation, oxidative stress, existing diseases, infections, and gut flora.  These agents are said to be major determinants  of  chronic diseases like cancer and were  studied poorly due to lack of proper methodology especially to study the body response and the variation in the population to exposure to these agents. But the developments in the field of  omics  have opened up new ways of looking into this complex unresolved problem. Simply Exposome  is the  comprehensive measurement of all exposure events (exogenous and endogenous) from conception to death.

The CDC  (centre for disease control and prevention) defines exposome as
“ the measure of all the exposures of an individual in a lifetime and how those exposures relate to health.  It aims at understanding how exposures from our environment, diet, lifestyle, etc. interact with our own unique characteristics such as genetics, physiology, and epigenetics and impact our health”  Exposomics, the  term used to denote the study of exposome,  uses  new generation of tools (omics based high throughput methods), to measure    Altered gene, protein or metabolite levels and measure Epigenetic changes.  Unlike the success of genomic studies, the exposome  poses huge  challenges. This is because of the highly dynamic nature of individuals exposome.  

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