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Promise of genomics research needs a realistic view
Date:2/17/2011

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - In the ten years since the human genetic code was mapped, expectations among scientists, health care industry, policy makers, and the public have remained high concerning the promise of genomics research for improving health.

But a new commentary by four internationally prominent genetic medicine and bioethics experts cautions against the dangers of inflated expectations an unsustainable genomic bubble and it offers ways to avoid it while still realizing "the true and considerable promise of the genomic revolution."

"This commentary is an attempt to bring some balance to the hopes and claims that swirl around the issue of genomic medicine. It is a cautionary essay that tries to extol the real and formidable potential of genomic medicine but also attempts to counter what we see as exaggerated claims, said lead author medical geneticist James P. Evans, MD, PhD, Bryson Distinguished Professor of Genetics and Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

"Our fear is that if we are uncritical and nave in our enthusiasm for these exciting technologies we risk both diversion of precious resources and premature implementation which could hurt patients - as well as a backlash which will hurt our field," Evans warns.

The commentary appears in the February 18, 2011 issue of the journal Science. Co-authors with Evans are Eric M. Meslin, PhD, director, Center for Bioethics, Indiana University, Indianapolis; Theresa M. Marteau, PhD, FMedSci, professor of health psychology, Kings College, London, UK; and Timothy Caulfield, LL.M., F.R.S.C., Canada Research Chair in Health Law & Policy, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta.

"Breathtaking" is how the authors describe the progress already made in genomic research. But, they caution, the considerable promise of genomics must be evaluated through a realistic lens. Advances in individ
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Contact: Les Lang
llang@med.unc.edu
919-966-9366
University of North Carolina School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert  

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