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A Decade Later, Genetic Map Yields Few New Cures


Ten years after President Bill Clinton announced that the first draft of the human genome was complete, medicine has yet to see any large part of the promised benefits.

For biologists, the genome has yielded one insightful surprise after another. But the primary goal of the $3 billion Human Genome Project--to ferret out the genetic roots of common diseases like cancer and Alzheimer's and then generate treatments--remains largely elusive. Indeed, after 10 years of effort, geneticists are almost back to square one in knowing where to look for the roots of common disease.

One sign of the genome's limited use for medicine so far was a recent test of genetic predictions for heart disease. A medical team led by Nina P. Paynter of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston collected 101 genetic variants that had been statistically linked to heart disease in various genome-scanning studies. But the variants turned out to have no value in forecasting disease among 19,000 women who had been followed for 12 years.

From The New York Times
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