Unlocking life's code: genome exhibit opens at Science North

Scientist Bruce Doran says there’s not much difference between you and him. Gentetically speaking, that is.
Science North unveils its newest exhibit Genome: Unlocking Life's Code tomorrow.

Scientist Bruce Doran says there's not much difference between you and him. Gentetically speaking, that is.

Science North's new exhibit, Genome: Unlocking Life's Code, aims to help people understand the intricacies behind our DNA.

"In many ways, this is the golden age of biology," Doran told CBC News. "We're just starting to learn and appreciate what's in our DNA."

It's the push for a greater understanding of our building blocks that's allowing great leaps in medicine, he said.

Bruce Doran, staff scientist at Science North, says advances in the knowledge surrounding genetics and DNA means we're living in the 'golden age of biology.' (Angela Gemmill/CBC)

"Researchers are saying that some diseases, like cystic fibrosis, may be eradicated in the next ten years," Doran said. "Or malaria in the next five to ten years."

The developments will also allow doctors to customize their approach to our personal health care, he said.

"Right now, what's happening, when you go see your medical professional, we go more with a shotgun approach," he said.

"They look at you, give you a series of tests and medications. We all know we're different. Medication might work for you, but not for me. The reason is genetic differences." 

A new approach will involve looking at each person separately, to see how treatments and medications interact with them as individuals.

Doran said that new approach is called precision medicine, and he expects to be seeing it in the near future.

"In the next 10-15 years, they'll take a genetic sample, and based on that, decide on how to treat certain diseases. That will save all kinds of costs, not waste time and research, and be more effective."

"The other big revolution is that certain diseases are not treatable, they're in your cells," he said. "For example, an individual who has Cystic Fibrosis right now, there's not really any treatment methods. With these new tools, you can actually change the defective DNA in the living cells. Remove the defective DNA, put the good DNA in."

Science North's Genome: Unlocking Life's Code opens tomorrow.

Visit their website here.