Could Genetic Testing Determine The Next Generation Of Athletes?

What if genetic tests can tell whether an infant carries specific athletic genes? Will this ensure a country’s steady supply of athletes who will represent during sporting events? Athletic performance may not be so easy to pin down because it’s influenced not only by genetics but also by environmental factors.

Genetic testing identifies changes in proteins, genes, or chromosomes. It can help detect the presence of specific genes and identify genetic conditions. An excellent example of this is the MTHFR genetic test that helps identify the type of Methylene-tetra-hydro-folate Reductase (MTHFR) genes individuals have in their genetic makeup. The test can be taken through a blood test or saliva test which can be done at home or in the lab.

Still, the offer came because the cost of genetic testing has become more affordable. Last year, the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology announced genetic testing for selecting athletes who will participate in time for the 2022 Olympics. Atlas Sports Genetics also offers customers genetic screening for a price of USD$149 – an offer that can have parents choosing sports for their children carrying specific athletic genes.

These services might sound too good to be accurate as those who believe it could spread misinformation.

The Gene Variants

Bento Lab has been started by engineers and scientists – a portable DNA test that enables ordinary citizens to test for DNA samples. It could be as simple as finding out if a food contains questionable ingredients. A Bento Lab kit can separate DNA fragments to detect a gene’s presence and the absence of it. It can also be used to see if your child has a trace of the athletic gene.

There are two gene variants linked to sporting performance: ACE II (Angiotensin-converting Enzyme 2) and ACTN3 RR (Alpha-actinin-3). These genes are the most studied because of the influence they have on the fibers of the muscles.

The ACE II genotype is found in athletes’ endurance, and ACTN3 RR is in the power athletes and sprinters. Atlas Sports Genetics focuses on the variants of the ACTC3 for muscle protein. It’s a type of protein that supports the fast contraction of muscles needed in a sprint.

Genome-wide association studies have been conducted before with elite athletes in UK sports clubs. There are 72 athletes and 95 support staff involved in a survey to which they admitted that genetic testing.

The purpose is to determine which genomes are highly associated with athletic abilities. It’s also important to note that many other genes have been defined in various studies that were linked to the function of the skeletal muscles, energy cell production, nerve cell communication, and other processes.

Do These Genes Influence Athletic Abilities?

Although they’re linked to the athlete’s endurance and power-related abilities, they can neither predict the athlete’s susceptibility to injuries. The variation, however, can be used to find more ways to protect athletes from serious injuries.

Officially, there have been more gene variations found, 150 in other all studies. Only a small number of them are contributing to the overall performance of athletes. The environment also plays a vital role in the development of athletic abilities. The support given by the family and coaches; the socio-economic status can highly influence athletic influence. Genetics is only the other half of what makes an excellent athlete.

While genetic testing can help replace physical testing, which is less reliable, it shouldn’t be the end-all or be-all when looking for athletes. Other factors are influencing the athletes, whether a child will do good at a sporting event, such as maturity and motor skills.

The research hasn’t shown how genetic testing can help detect athleticism nor detect injury susceptibility. There’s difficulty in analyzing how genes are influenced by the environment they’re in, and how each genetic variant interacts with each other is problematic.

 Is Genetic Testing Ethical?

The research has found that 28% of athletes and 14% of support staff support genetic testing in sports. Using the procedure to identify individuals’ talent yielded 67% of athletes and 48% of support staff also agreeing to it. The overall opinion is interesting because of how genetic testing will affect or limit athletes’ careers and futures. There’s a huge potential in the misuse of science to initiate talented athletes’ selection process and a greater risk of spreading misinformation.

The United States and Canada both have passed laws that prevent certain entities from using genetic testing. Canada banned insurance companies from using the procedure, and the United States has the Genetic Information Non-discrimination Act 2008 (GINA). The law is implemented to protect civilians against discriminatory actions at employment due to their genetic details.

DNA testing, however, isn’t a wrong procedure at all. Other than detecting ancestry, spotting possible medical conditions, or detecting an athletic gene, it can also help you manage your health better. Genetic testing will tell what sort of foods are better for your body, what intolerances you have, such as sicknesses or allergies, and other possible influences that can affect your health.

The Bottomline

One of the newest trends in sport and the fitness world is genetic testing. Genetic testing can help detect the presence of genes and identify the genetic condition of a person through MTHFR genetic testing. This will also a great help for trainers, so they’ll know the appropriate training and workout plan for their trainees or athletes.

ACE II and ACTN3 RR are the gene variants that are related to sports performance. Knowing which is dominant in an individual’s gene will help them find suitable sports for them. The following problems were also highlighting the fact that genetic testing can also be used to discriminate against athletes who may not possess any of the two favorable genes.

The genetic testing services are bringing forth to the masses the idea that not everyone can be athletes. It also poses a risk of mishandling genetic information against basic human rights. But genetic testing can still be used to detect possible illnesses for treatment and as a basis for your overall health.

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