Perspectives on the Future of DNA Research

Bio-IT World published a special report entitled: "50/50: Reflections on the Double Helix".  The report contains "personal views of 50 luminaries from the world of genomics and biomedicine on the future of DNA research. These exclusive interviews were conducted by Senior Editor Malorye Branca and other Bio-IT World staff."  Highlights of this report can be found here.

Omics in the Foreseeable Future

Nebert DW, Jorge-Nebert L, Vesell ES. Pharmacogenomics and "Individualized Drug Therapy": high expectations and disappointing achievements. Am J Pharmacogenomics. 3(6):361-70. (only abstract available for free)

Genomics is an important tool in basic research; yet, it is unrealistic to include genotyping within the realm of tests available to the practicing clinician in the foreseeable future. The same can be said for transcriptomics and proteomics…The newly emerging fields of metabonomics and phenomics might offer solutions to anticipating and decreasing individual risk for adverse drug reactions in each individual patient; however, tests based on these approaches are not expected to become available to the practicing clinician for at least the next 5-10 years.

Attitudes of Consumers on Genetics

CogentResearch Press Release, Americans Ready to Use Genomics to Optimize Diet And Health.  November 17, 2003.

Three-fourths of Americans are interested in obtaining their personal genetic information to identify their risk of diseases such as cancer, osteoporosis, and heart disease, and nearly half of Americans are ready to use diet-related products tailored to their health needs based upon their genetic make-up, according to a recent research study presented at the Second Annual International Nutrigenomics Conference in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

"A survey of 1,000 Americans conducted by Cambridge-based Cogent Research, LLC, found that a majority of Americans are receptive to the idea of using genetic information to optimize health…’Americans are ready and willing to buy products based upon their genetic information, but the science is only in the early stages of being able to deliver,’ said Christy White, principal of Cogent Research. ‘The good news is consumers aren’t looking for complete diet regimens, but for individual products and basic recommendations’…

"The survey reveals that more than 90 percent of Americans are aware of the connection between diet and health, and 71 percent believe genetics play a crucial role in health throughout life. However, 73 percent are concerned about how personal genetic information would be stored and who would have access to that information. The findings are part of a broader, syndicated research study on genomics that explored solutions including pharmaceuticals, health and beauty products, and nutrition. It marks one of the largest efforts to understand consumers’ acceptance of using their DNA information to influence the balance between health and disease."

Profile: Human Epigenome Project

Jane Bradbury, Human Epigenome Project—Up and Running, PLOS Biology, 1(3). December 2003.

Nutrigenomics Special Issue

The journal Nutrition for January 2004 is a special issue on nutrigenomics.  Read the TOC here.

Of special interest are the following articles:

Foreword from the editors, Page 1
David B. Allison, Stephen Barnes and W. Timothy Garvey

"[There is] a long-held belief that there are individual differences in the response to ingested nutrients. These differences may have a basis in biological inheritance. If we can come to understand the origin of these differences, we may be able to not only better direct individuals to tailored nutrition recommendations but also enhance our understanding of the basic pathways through which particular nutrients achieve their effects."

~30 000 genes
~over 1.5 million SNPs
genes expressed as mRNA, variable in abundance
translated into proteins, variable in form
~225k plant species, ~80k edible, each w/ ~thousands of compounds

"This matrix of many thousands of foods and ingestible nutrients by many thousands of genes, genetic polymorphisms, and gene products is the playing field of nutrigenomics. As a field, we have just begun to explore this and must acknowledge that we have a combinatorial tiger by the tail."

Nutrigenomics:: exploiting systems biology in the nutrition and health arenas, Pages 4-8
Ben van Ommen

Genome scans for human nutritional traits:: what have we learned?, Pages 9-13
Tuomo Rankinen and Hemant Tiwari

Diet–disease gene interactions, Pages 26-31
Jim Kaput

Web Design for Sciences: Digizyme

I must comment on my recent discovery of absolutely stunning work by Digizyme, a multimedia company focusing their efforts on the sciences.

DNA Tests for Clotting Disorder Approved

FDA Approves Lab Tests for Genetic Clotting Risk, FDA Press Release, Dec 17 2003.

"[The FDA] today approved the first DNA-based laboratory tests for an inherited disorder. The new tests, for blood clotting abnormalities, represent a significant advance in technology. FDA has cleared other genetic tests in the past, but none was DNA-based.

The new tests will enable clinical laboratories to identify people who have an increased risk of developing blood clots in the veins of their legs and elsewhere because of hereditary abnormalities in two proteins involved in blood clotting. Five to ten percent of all Americans have at least one of these genetic abnormalities. If untreated, blood clots can cause death….

To perform the test, DNA sequences from a person’s blood are amplified using Polymerase Chain Reaction…A fluorescent tag then binds to the amplified DNA and is used to measure the presence or absence of the clotting mutation."

The diagnostic tests are for Factor V Leiden Thrombophilia and Prothrombin G20210A Thrombophilia.  Here is another description of Factor V Leiden by the American Heart Assoc, in pdf; a more resources at the KU Genetics Education Center.


Profile II: International HapMap Project

The International HapMap Project, Nature 426:789 - 796. December 18 2003. (HTML or pdf)

Predictions for 2008

Kelli A. Miller, Thinking Beyond Tomorrow, The Scientist, Dec. 15, 2003. (free registration required)

Personalized Medicine

Nancy Weil, Hurdles Remain Before Personalized Medicine Takes Hold, Bio-IT World, Dec 11 2003.

Discusses the recent symposium at MIT: The Future of the Pharmaceutical Industry.  "The challenges faced by the healthcare industry in translating human genome knowledge into clinical practice are steep, involving a cultural shift that will take decades to achieve, said speakers" at the symposium.  The articles goes on to outline several of these challenges, such as the integration of genetics into medical education and the management of huge amounts of medical information.

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