Scientists: Few cures yet from genome

June 12, 2010 at 4:41 PM
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NEW YORK, June 12 (UPI) -- Researchers have discovered most genetic diseases are too complex for the Human Genome Project to produce treatments quickly, U.S. scientists say.

"Genomics is a way to do science, not medicine," Dr. Harold Varmus, head of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, told The New York Times.

President Bill Clinton announced the preliminary mapping of the human genome in 2000. At the time, scientists predicted treatments based on the research would be available within 15 years.

Dr. Francis Collins, then genome director of the National Institutes of Health, looked forward to "a complete transformation in therapeutic medicine" in 15 or 20 years.

Scientists have found many genetic factors contributing to the risk of heart disease and cancer and have discovered many of them are rare mutations.

In one study, Dr. Nina Paynter of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and colleagues examined whether 101 genetic variants believed to contribute to heart disease risk could be used to predict whether women would become sick. Paynter reported in The Journal of the American Medical Association in February that the old-fashioned method -- learning the patient's family history of heart disease -- worked better.

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