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Somatic genetic variants

Facts for Prelims (FFP)


Source: TH

 Context: Scientists have known of somatic variants for many years, but recently there has been an explosion in the amount of data.

  • While DNA replication during cell division is generally accurate, errors occur at an estimated rate of 0.64-0.78 mutations per billion base pairs per division.
  • These mutations are more common during development and are referred to as somatic genetic mutations.
  • These errors, often arising from the repeated copying of the genome, increase with age and tissue turnover. Some of these mutations can confer advantages to cells, leading to the development of tumours known as driver mutations.


About Somatic Genetic Variants: 

  • Somatic genetic variants, also known as somatic mutations or somatic changes, refer to alterations in the DNA sequence that occur in the cells of an individual’s body after conception.
  • Somatic mutations can occur for various reasons, such as errors during DNA replication, exposure to environmental factors (like radiation or chemicals), or simply as a natural consequence of cellular
  • Somatic mutations can have different effects depending on where they occur in the genome and which genes are affected.
  • Some somatic mutations are harmless and have no discernible impact on the cell or individual. However, others can lead to the development of diseases, including cancer.