Advantage from the Human Genome

Reimbursement should occur through eventual identification of the tens of thousands of Genes in the entire genome. As genes are recognized they can be used for:1

  • Gene therapy
  • Tailor made pharmaceutical products
  • Predictive testing, either antenatally or later
  • To improve the understanding of disease mechanisms.

These probable benefits must be assessing, however, in the background of what medicine has actually achieved. Of 32 years development in life expectation in the 20th century, just 10% was the consequence of superior medical care (and partially of that was due to childhood immunization). Most of our good health - and being one of the rich countries of the world, we are one of the healthiest - has come from ecological improvement: clean water, contemporary sewage disposal, better accommodation and so on. Yet we use up 50 times as much per head of inhabitants on health care as is spent on the 5 billion people living outside OECD countries.

One cause for all the hype about the human genome project may be that new medical research has shaped little of value, and medical scientists are desperate for amazing theatrical. Clinical trials and meta-analyses get ever better since such small improvement are look for; many now are only designed to show equivalence: that the new drug is just about as good as what we have already.

But virtually no research is done on the major tropical diseases that kill many millions each year: just 1% of the new drugs marketed in the last 25 years are useful in such diseases. And how is it that after 30 years of being fed weekly diets by the main cancer charities of the latest greatest breakthroughs, there have been only marginal improvements in cancer cure and continued existence rates?

That checkup research achieves so little may be because most is no longer done for the benefit of mankind. Most is now done for personal career advancement or to benefit the shareholders of pharma and biotech companies. This is seen par fineness in the human genome project. In research done for such motives there is no reason to allow the rest of civilization to keep up. If the research were authentically intended to benefit humanity, researchers would ensure that those assess its social and ethical issues, and the universal public, could keep up.