Sunday, July 22, 2012

All you wanted to know about Human Genomics but were afraid to ask

It's one of the videos that popped up on the GenomeTV channel. The title is "The Human Genome and Individualized Medicine" by David Valle. The Q&A is also very informative, as this extract shows:

..First of all, acute lymphoblastic leukemia. When I was a house officer in the later '60s and early '70s, acute lymphoblastic leukemia was the most common form of childhood leukemia and had a 95 percent mortality rate - 95 percent mortality. Nowadays, acute lymphoblastic leukemia remains the most common chilhood leukemia. It has 95 percent survival rate, 95 percent survival/ So it went from 95 percent mortality to 95 percent survival. So what account for that change ? So actually if you look at it, the medicines that are currently being used are very similar, if not identical, to the medicines that we used all those years ago. So it's not the kinds of medicines that are being used. What it is, I would argue, is that oncologists have learned that this diagnosis is actually a heterogeneous group of disorders. And they've learned how to use gene expression profiling, age of onset, DNA sequence variation and other tools to subdivide the patients. In other words, move from one collective diagnosis to subcategories of diagnosis moving towards individualizing the diagnosis to individual patients and the manipulating their treatment according to which subdivision the patient falls. And that approach. a more informed approach in terms of differences between individual patient with the same diagnosis, has had a dramatic effect on the consequences of having ALL....


As I suspected, the definition for gene is not as straightforward.

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