Skip to comments.A Dissenting Voice as the Genome Is Sifted to Fight Disease
Posted on 09/16/2008 1:07:31 AM PDT by neverdem
The principal rationale for the $3 billion spent to decode the human genome was that it would enable the discovery of the variant genes that predispose people to common diseases like cancer and Alzheimers. A major expectation was that these variants had not been eliminated by natural selection because they harm people only later in life after their reproductive years are over, and hence that they would be common.
This idea, called the common disease/common variant hypothesis, drove major developments in biology over the last five years. Washington financed the HapMap, a catalog of common genetic variation in the human population. Companies like Affymetrix and Illumina developed powerful gene chips for scanning the human genome. Medical statisticians designed the genomewide association study, a robust methodology for discovering true disease genes and sidestepping the many false positives that have plagued the field.
But David B. Goldstein of Duke University, a leading young population geneticist known partly for his research into the genetic roots of Jewish ancestry, says the effort to nail down the genetics of most common diseases is not working. There is absolutely no question, he said, that for the whole hope of personalized medicine, the news has been just about as bleak as it could be.
Of the HapMap and other techniques developed to make sense of the human genome, Dr. Goldstein said, Technically, it was a tour de force. But in his view, this prodigious labor has produced just a handful of...
After doing comprehensive studies for common diseases, we can explain only a few percent of the genetic component of most of these traits, he said. For schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, we get almost nothing; for Type 2 diabetes, 20 variants, but they explain only 2 to 3 percent of familial clustering, and so on.
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
IIRC, you had a recent thread about work done by David B. Goldstein.
interesting read - thanks
His remarks here seem kinda dumb, though, similar to someone saying in 1928 that Fleming's observation is interesting, but it won't lead to any medical advances since we're not fungi!
True enough, there are only a few areas where personalized medicine has benefitted patients (in breast cancer therapy, for example), but for him to be so nihilistic about this very new area is just...well...dumb.