Our bodies are exceptionally clever. Even when we’re asleep, they’re doing
all sorts of extraordinary things, like mending themselves. These things don’t happen by magic. Deep inside our cells is a chemical called
DNA. DNA acts like an instruction manual, controlling
how our body works. These instructions are made up of four chemical letters that we call A, G, T and C. These repeat 6 billion times. That’s enough letters to take a whopping
57 years to read out aloud. The complete set that makes you the unique
and brilliant individual you are, is called your ‘Genome Sequence’. Around 99% of our sequences are the same.
It’s the 1% that makes us all different, deciding everything from our height to our
hair colour. DNA is a bit like the computer code used to
give robots instructions. Sometimes a glitch in the code, like a spelling
mistake, will create individual differences. Most of the time this isn’t a problem.
Sometimes it can even be an advantage. But if a glitch makes the instructions confusing,
the robot might not be able to do things as it should. It’s the same with our DNA. Everyone has
glitches, but some of us have glitches that cause health problems, because our body isn’t
getting the right instructions. For instance, having a glitch in the DNA for
your muscles might make you less strong. The only way to find that glitch, is to look
closely at your genome sequence. Genome sequencing is an exciting new technology. By taking a blood sample, scientists can remove
the DNA and read your sequence using a high-powered
machine. The scientists will compare your sequence
to thousands of other peoples’, to find the glitch. They might even compare it to
your close relatives, like your Mum and Dad. Working out exactly where your genome is different,
can help doctors to diagnose the cause of your condition and decide on the best treatment. It’s still a very new technology so the
more people have their genome sequences read and compared, the more we can learn about
DNA and the more answers we can find in the future.