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Genomic Medicine, Finally 64

Daniel Dvorkin writes "When I first started studying bioinformatics almost fifteen years ago (!) what drew me to the field was the promise that we might soon be able to provide effective, personalized treatments for a wide variety of diseases. There have been some successes along the way, like genetic tests for warfarin dosage, but for the most part our gains in understanding of basic biology haven't been matched by clinical advances. Now it looks like that is at long last about to change, and it's about time.

Too many people suffer and die from too many diseases that we more or less understand, but can't effectively treat. I hated it when I worked in hands-on patient care, and I hate it now in the lab. We are, finally, getting there."
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Genomic Medicine, Finally

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  • Re:Try this (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SlashdotWanker ( 1476819 ) on Friday March 07, 2014 @08:32PM (#46432273)
    Healthy long lives are a result of the combination of active lifestyles, good diet and the ability to remove sickness with the least amount of permanent damage. You can eat a genetically pure diet with perfect amounts of nutrients and still end up getting skin cancer. Medicine should not be your first stop to trying to be healthy but at the same time, It's necessary.
  • by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) on Saturday March 08, 2014 @12:57AM (#46433203) Homepage Journal

    The clinical trials framework that's evolved over the decades isn't really equipped to deal with personalized medicine, but that's starting to change. Where I work [], we're starting to understand the genomic basis of altitude sickness and putting together treatment trials on that basis. This is an area where the potential market is pretty large, of course, and for rare diseases that affect small numbers of people it's going to be harder, but if we can develop a generally accepted body of protocols for individualized trials then it should be possible to apply this to smaller groups as time goes by.

  • Re:The Load (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 08, 2014 @01:29AM (#46433271)

    "Pharmas aren't, but that isn't their job."

    Pharmaceutical companies justify their prices and patents by saying that they're performing a public service. No pharmaceutical company needed an fscking patent to develop, test, and sell Viagra, even though they did get those patents. They say they need patents and tax loop holes to develop expensive drugs with small markets and low profit margins.

    But companies aren't pursuing small markets and low profit margins. Big pharmaceutical companies pursue huge markets with huge profit margins.

    Most genomic science-based drug development is spearheaded by the NIH, universities, and other non-profit centers. Although university labs suck at this because the moment a researcher makes a discovery, he immediately leaves the school to form his own for-profit lab and chase big money. Then some large company buys his company (smelling a publicly financed science windfall). Then, invariably, the research is left to wither on the vine because the company spends 99% of its time chasing weight loss, diabetes, depression, etc. And the CEOs don't care about this ridiculous cycle because as long as they keep buying up small labs at a reasonable pace, they reap asset gains in the stock market because investors equate these deals with progress.

Think of it! With VLSI we can pack 100 ENIACs in 1 sq. cm.!