25 February, 2021

‘Cancer Can Be Prevented’

Most of the times, diseases are a result of interaction between the environment and our genes, says bio-scientist Dr Dwaipayan Bharadwaj.

Photograph by Vijay Pandey
‘Cancer Can Be Prevented’

Dr Dwaipayan Bharadwaj, professor at the School of Biotechnology, JNU, and fellow of the National Academy of Sciences, was once a senior principal scientist working at a public-funded genomic project. He is pushing the frontiers of genetic understanding of many diseases. Excerpts from an interview with Zia Haq:

How has newer understanding of our genes helped make fighting diseases, such as cancer, easier?

As a scientist, I can say what my understanding is. First of all, there is a misconception regarding genes. People don’t understand it well. If I take a sample from your hair follicle or blood or any other part, I will find the same DNA everywhere. Now these genes can modify. A gene can be methylated, for instance (put simply, methylation is one of several mechanisms through which expression of a gene is switched on or off). That kind of modification happens. But you cannot modify gene sequencing. That is constant. That’s the basic science. Now, mutation is when there is...

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