C & E News

ANN M. THAYER, The Genomics Evolution. Chemical & Engineering News, Dec 8, 2003.

WELL DEFINED: Brush Up On Your ‘Omics’. Chemical & Engineering News, Dec. 8 2003.

More on Information Therapy

In a recent post, I mentioned a new service sector referred to as "information therapy."

The Center for Information Therapy, a division of Healthwise Inc., describes information therapy as "the prescription of the right information to the right person at the right time to help people make wise health decisions. Unlike free-floating health content on the Web, information therapy prescriptions are delivered to the patient as part of the process of care, with only the information relevant to his or her current moment in care."

Information therapy augments medical care in a way that informs patients about the process of care specific to their illness.  Here are some examples of an Information Prescription (Ix).

Drug Efficacy: Trial by Error

Drug efficacy rate in per cent

Alzheimer’s: 30
Analgesics (Cox-2): 80
Asthma: 60
Cardiac Arrythmias: 60
Depression (SSRI): 62
Diabetes: 57
Hepatits C (HCV): 47
Incontinence: 40
Migraine (acute): 52
Migraine (prophylaxis): 50
Oncology: 25
Rheumatoid arthritis: 50
Schizophrenia: 60

Dr. Allen Roses, worldwide vice-president of genetics at GlaxoSmithKline, recently commented about the dreadful state of affairs for patients taking prescription medications.  Namely, drugs are frequently ineffective for huge swaths of the population.  "The vast majority of drugs - more than 90 per cent - only work in 30 or 50 per cent of the people," Dr Roses said. "I wouldn’t say that most drugs don’t work. I would say that most drugs work in 30 to 50 per cent of people. Drugs out there on the market work, but they don’t work in everybody."  He went on to say that "pharmacogenetics has the promise of removing much of the uncertainty."

As noted by Brooke at COSMAS, this is hardly a "shocking revelation."  Roses statements are not confessions as the Independent would have it seem:

Anonymous. Multinational drug company: honest, decent, public-spirited? The Independent (UK), December 8, 2003. (Subscribers only, but see here)

Steve Connor, Glaxo chief: Our drugs do not work on most patients, The Independent (UK), December 8, 2003.

While a geneticist at Duke, Dr. Allen Roses played a critical role in the identification of Apolipoprotein E as an Alzheimer’s susceptibility gene.  He has written many papers related to the post-genomic era, many of which can be found online for free (scroll to bottom).

UPDATE: Also see Derek Lowe’s The British Press vs. GSK


Primer: Comparative Genomics

Ross C. Hardison, Comparative Genomics, PLOS Biology, November 17, 2003

Centre for Genetics Education

This week’s issue of the CDC’s Genomics Weekly Update is now online.  The Let’s Go Surfing section consistently introduces useful websites from around the world and this week is no exception.  The Centre for Genetics Education is based in Sydney, Australia.  It provides "current and relevant genetics information to individuals and family members affected by genetic conditions and the professionals who work with them."

The Centre offers a guide for recording family health information entitled "The Importance of Your Family Health Information." (pdf)  From the introduction:

"Many common disorders such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer and mental illness can run in families. If you have knowledge of your family health history, it may be possible to predict, prevent or treat health problems that have affected previous generations…[A] record of family illnesses…may help your doctor to diagnose and prevent health problems by recognising patterns of illness that may run in your family."

Lots of quality educational material at the webpage, e.g. for those individuals interested in learning more about a genetic disorder, the Centre provides disorder information sheets (for Australian citizens only I presume).  A similar service is offered by the U.S. National Library of Medicine: the Genetics Home Reference.


Profile: Micohealth

Jeff Berman, Micohealth Remotely Connects Patients and Providers, Health-IT World.


Micohealth, a Web-based application from Medmanager Interactive, is helping patients with diabetes and heart problems manage their conditions and keep clinicians better informed.

Micohealth provides a way for patients to collect vital information, monitor symptoms, and communicate with clinicians. By tracking daily activity, including exercise, and food and medication intake, patients and clinicians are better equipped to assess how effectively the disease is being managed.

UPDATE: The California Healthcare Foundation website recently added the following guide by The First Consulting Group: "Online Patient-Provider Communication Tools: An Overview" (pdf warning!), November 2003. (Thanks to The Informatics-Review)

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