Genetically inherited diseases

A genetic disease is any disease that is caused by an abnormality in an individual's genome, the person's entire genetic makeup. The abnormality can range from minuscule to major -- from a discrete mutation in a single base in the DNA of a single gene to a gross chromosome abnormality involving the addition or subtraction of an entire chromosome or set of chromosomes. Most genetic diseases are the direct result of a mutation in one gene. However, one of the most difficult problems ahead is to find out how genes contribute to diseases that have a complex pattern of inheritance, such as in the cases of diabetes, asthma, cancer and mental illness. In all these cases, no one gene has the yes/no power to say whether a person has a disease or not. It is likely that more than one mutation is required before the disease is manifest, and a number of genes may each make a subtle contribution to a person's susceptibility to a disease; genes may also affect how a person reacts to environmental factors.

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