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Genetic variation map may promise tailored drugs

作者:詹给    发布时间:2019-03-02 11:20:07    

By Will Knight, Washington, DC A new map of genetic “signposts” that reveal general variations in the human genome could lead to more effective, genetically-tailored drugs. A study of 1.58 million genetic markers across 71 individuals of different genetic heritage showed that the markers correspond to general genetic variation. These patterns of genetic variation could be used to identify genetic susceptibility to certain illnesses and anticipate the varying responses to treatments in different people. But the researchers – from Perlegen Sciences, the Computer Science Institute in California and the University of California, San Diego, all in the US – stress that this does not mean people with different ancestral history can be divided into discrete groups on a genetic basis. In fact, the genetic evidence gathered so far suggests there is no clear dividing line between different “races”. The researchers examined the distribution of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) – which corresponds to altering a single letter in a person’s genetic code. SNPs are not responsible for causing disease themselves, but correspond to wider genetic variability. This variability can play an important role in determining a person’s susceptibility to certain illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease and mental illness – conditions usually caused by a multiplicity of genetic and environmental factors. The work will “provide an invaluable resource for genetic research to improve human health”, says Donald Kennedy, editor-in-chief of Science, in which the research has been published. “There’s no reason why this shouldn’t improve our use of existing drugs very soon,” adds David Cox, chief scientific officer of Perlegen Sciences. The researchers analysed the genetic blueprint of 24 people of European descent, 23 of African origin and 24 of Han Chinese ancestry. They chose to compare these people because their genetic heritage ought to be different enough to show differences in SNP variation. Troy Duster, a sociologist at New York University, US, says the work may turn out to be very valuable in treating certain illnesses. But he worries that it could be misinterpreted or misappropriated to provide validation for the concept of race. “One should be very careful when reporting on the differences between people associated with different groups,” he says. Perlegen Sciences is now collaborating with a wider international effort to map SNP variation, called the International HapMap Project. This programme aims to analyse four million SNPs in 270 different people. But David Altshuler, of the Broad Institute in Massachusetts, US, points out that this has yet to be proven as a means of detecting susceptibility to illness. “It’s important to clarify with regard to personalised medicine that this is a possibility, but by no means inevitable,

 

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