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Genomics: Implementation, application and future

Genomics: Implementatie, toepassing en toekomst


Genomics - the large scale analysis of hereditary information encoded in the DNA - has been implemented at the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) in the Netherlands. In the near future other large-scale technologies will become important for the RIVM, including proteomics (the large-scale study of proteins), which will play a large role in screening applications on micro-organisms and for population screening programmes. Currently, mainly transcriptomics - the simultaneous measurement of gene expression changes in thousands of genes - is used. By comparing gene expression changes between cells/tissues treated with compounds or micro-organisms, for example, the biological pathways that become active (or inactive) can be determined. This leads to a better understanding of the origins of diseases or toxic effects and therefore to possibilities for prevention, treatment or intervention. This knowledge is also important for legislation on chemical substances and drugs. Additionally, genomic hybridisations were performed to determine the copy number of a gene in a genome. This technique is used for typing whooping cough strains. For large-scale typing of genetic variation it was decided not to invest in equipment, but to cooperate with external partners. This type of measurement applies to the study of the role of genetic variation in the origin and cause of the metabolic syndrome and certain infectious diseases so as to determine risk groups in the Dutch population. This application can also be used to identify risk groups for risk assessment of chemical substances and drugs. Genomics is currently used in an increasing number of projects. It is also important that additional technologies such as proteomics (and later possibly also metabolomics) are set up RIVM-wide.

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