Neurogenomics is a medical specialty that looks to people’s genes for clues to better prevent, detect and treat brain disease. At UCLA, we are using techniques such as exome sequencing to improve the lives of people touched by conditions like dementia, clinical ataxia and epilepsy.
Neurogenomics Research Starts With Your Genome
Within each one of your cells lies a complete set of genes, which is your genome. Your genome is responsible for many aspects of your health, including your risk of developing certain diseases, how severe those diseases become and how you respond to different treatments.
Neurogenomics researchers at UCLA are exploring the connection between our genes and brain diseases. These efforts may significantly advance care and improve outcomes. Read more about the Clinical Neurogenomics Research Center >
Whole Exome Sequencing Helps Us Identify Gene Mutations
If you compared your genome to a stranger’s, there would be a lot of similarities. But small changes in certain genes make each person’s genome unique. Sometimes a change (mutation) occurs that leads to a disease. Gene mutations may be passed down in families, or they may occur on their own.
Your genome includes billions of pieces of genetic code in the form of DNA. Most mutations that cause disease occur within a small portion of this code (1 to 2 percent). This area of the gene is known as the exon because it is the “ex”pressed part of the gene.
The best way to identify these mutations is through a method called exome sequencing. This process uses special technology to map out the precise order of genetic code within the exons so researchers can identify the mutation and link it to the brain disease.
A Unique Neurogenomics Database Supports Innovative Research
Researchers often need additional information to determine what exome sequencing findings mean for people who have or are at risk for brain disease. Since 2009, researchers at UCLA have been developing a unique neurogenomics database that will allow us to take the next steps toward this goal.
Our neurogenomics database leverages exome sequencing data with health histories, test findings and treatment information from thousands of research participants. This data supports novel studies exploring potential linkages between genetic mutations and brain disease. Most UCLA Neurology patients have the opportunity to be a part of our efforts by participating in neurogenomics research.