Personalized medicine and the Human Genome Project

By April Cashin-Garbutt, BA Hons (Cantab)

Its nearly a decade since the completion of the Human Genome Project, (1) which aimed to sequence the complete human genome.

The project promised potentially amazing advances for medicine. Professor Allan Bradley, the director of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, said to the BBC that the eventual health benefits could be phenomenal.(2)

But how close actually are we to personalized medicine? When will we begin to see the benefits of the Human Genome Project?

Throughout history, doctors have prescribed certain medicines for certain conditions. Yet, sometimes a medicine would not work for a particular person. The reason for this was not known.

We now know that genetics may play a large role in the way people respond to certain medication. In fact, there is a whole discipline devoted to studying this topic pharmacogenetics.(3)

Pharmacogenetics has many potential benefits. These include improving the safety and enhancing the efficacy of medicines. This will be particularly useful for conditions such as diabetes, depression and asthma where the common treatments are only effective for around 60% of patients. (4)

The Human Genome Project (HGP) commenced in 1990.(5) Its aim was to map and sequence the complete human genome.

The project was, in fact, rather controversial and it sparked many ethical questions such as, Is sequencing the human genome an intellectually appropriate project for biologists?(6)

Go here to read the rest:

(1) Personalized medicine and the Human Genome Project

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