"Scientists said yesterday that they have discovered a tiny genetic mutation that largely explains the first appearance of white skin in humans tens of thousands of years ago, a finding that helps solve one of biology's most enduring mysteries and illuminates one of humanity's greatest sources of strife."
"[For] better or worse, the finding's most immediate impact may be an escalating debate about the meaning of race."
The New York Times Genetic Find Stirs Debate on Race-Based Medicine
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"In a finding that is likely to sharpen discussion about the merits of race-based medicine, an Icelandic company says it has detected a version of a gene that raises the risk of heart attack in African-Americans by more than 250 percent."
"Dr. Kari Stefansson, the company's chief executive, said he would consult with the Association of Black Cardiologists and others as to whether to test a new heart attack drug specifically in a population of African-Americans."
"Last year a drug called BiDil evoked mixed reactions after it was shown to sharply reduce heart attacks among African-Americans, first in a general study and then in a targeted study, after it failed to show efficacy in the general population. The drug, invented by Dr. Jay N. Cohn, a cardiologist at the University of Minnesota, prompted objections that race-based medicine was the wrong approach."redux [10.26.05]
BusinessWeek A New Roadmap for Genetics
"Gattaca, a science-fiction movie released in 1997, portrays a dystopian future in which a person's place in society is determined by an analysis of his or her DNA, and the likelihood of disease is ascertained at birth. The movie would seem to have little connection with reality -- except that an international consortium has just completed the groundwork for a version of this future. Ultimately, an individual's DNA could be decoded at an early age to spot a predisposition to illness. And here's where life improves on art: The goal will be to counter the risk of disease, not pigeonhole the person."Nature Geneticists hail variety show
"And HapMap shows how differences between ethnic groups can be very subtle."
"But although the absolute differences between the various ethnic backgrounds are tiny, there are genetic trends that differ between ethnic groups. A given set of SNPs may be linked in one way in Asian populations for example, but in a different way in Europeans. Over the whole genome there are more differences between individuals than there are between ethnic groups, but such trends are still thought to be useful for targeting drugs.
Hudson stresses that not all people within an ethnic group share the same SNP pattern, so pharmaceutical companies should bear this in mind. "We would want to give a drug not based on the colour of someone's skin but based on the presence or absence of the genetic markers," he says."redux [07.27.05]
The Boston Globe Personalized medicine
"So, what's in it for me? That question probably crossed many minds five years ago following the news that scientists had successfully assembled the first draft of the human genome -- the genetic blueprint of a human being. The answer for most of us was ''not much."
What a difference five years can make. Today, we are witnessing a revolution in the understanding of health and disease, spurred on by the sequencing of the human genome and the subsequent creation of a map of human genetic variation. And, like most historic movements, this revolution has been given a name: personalized medicine."
"Will access to genomic technologies be equitable? Will knowledge of human genetic variation reduce prejudice or increase it? What boundaries will need to be placed on this technology, particularly when applied to enhancement of traits rather than prevention or treatment of disease? Will we succumb to genetic determinism, neglecting the role of the environment and undervaluing the power of the human spirit?"redux [07.12.03]
The New York Times: Editorials/Op-Ed Is Race Real?
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"Genetics increasingly shows that racial and ethnic distinctions are real -- but often fuzzy and greatly exaggerated. Genetics will increasingly show that most humans are mongrels, and it will make a mockery of racism.
"There are meaningful distinctions among groups that may have implications for disease susceptibility," said Harry Ostrer, a genetics expert at the New York University School of Medicine. "The right-wing version of this is `The Bell Curve,' and that's pseudoscience -- that's not real. But there can be a middle ground between left-wing political correctness and right-wing meanness.""redux [05.28.03]
Washinton Post Howard U. Plans Genetics Database
"Howard University officials yesterday announced plans to create the first large-scale collection of genetic profiles of African Americans, an endeavor they described as a bid for a "place at the table in genetic research" and a pathway to improved medical care for blacks."
"However, other genetics experts question the premise that the program can help as much as Howard officials say."redux [05.13.03]
MIT Technology Review Genes, Medicine, and the New Race Debate
"The use--and often misuse--of genetics to explain racial and ethnic differences is, of course, nothing new. But the HapMap, together with a series of powerful genomic tools developed over the last several years, will make it possible to spell out in great detail the genetic differences between peoples from different parts of the world. Sociologists, bioethicists, and anthropologists worry that the genetic data could be manipulated to give an air of biological credence to ethnic stereotypes, to revive discredited racial classifications, and even to fuel bogus claims of fundamental genetic differences between groups."redux [01.25.03]
Scientific American The Reality of Race
"Race doesn't exist, the mantra went. The DNA inside people with different complexions and hair textures is 99.9 percent alike, so the notion of race had no meaning in science. At a National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) meeting five years ago, geneticists were all nodding in agreement. Then sociologist Troy Duster pulled a forensics paper out of his briefcase. It claimed that criminologists could find out whether a suspect was Caucasian, Afro-Caribbean or Asian Indian merely by analyzing three sections of DNA.
"It was chilling," recalls Francis S. Collins, director of the institute. He had not been aware of DNA sequences that could identify race, and it shocked him that the information can be used to investigate crimes. "It stopped the conversation in its tracks.""redux [12.20.02]
Nature: Science Update Humans more similar than different
"Inuit or Basque, Laotian or Pashtun: we're much more similar than we are different, says the most detailed analysis of human genetic variation to date.
When it comes to sensitivity to drugs or diseases, the analysis also suggests that a person's account of their ethnic origin is almost as reliable an indicator as intrusive genetic tests.""redux [11.01.02]
Financial Times Wires cross over genes
"In response to early concerns about racial profiling, scientists at the Human Genome Project went out of their way to downplay ethnic variations. Humans are 99.9 per cent alike, the sequencing showed, a figure that was leveraged into a call for global harmony. "The concept of race has no genetic or scientific basis," said Francis Collins, head of the Human Genome Project, at the White House ceremony to celebrate the genome completion.
Yet a great deal of controversy is now brewing over that 0.1 per cent. A growing number of scientists want to use such information as a way to find cures for devastating diseases. If we know more about the genes that cause susceptibility to cystic fibrosis in whites, or sickle cell anaemia in blacks, they argue, we will move closer to a solution for these illnesses. "Ancestry is imperative to biomedical research," says Mark Shriver, an anthropologist at Pennsylvania State University."redux [10.30.01]
Nature: Science Update Race is a poor prescription
"Race should not influence drug prescriptions, warn geneticists. Genetic differences between individuals give a better indication of who will respond well to a medicine, a new study shows."
Geneticists have known this for a while. "It's no surprise that skin pigment is a lousy predictor of physiology," says Howard McLeod of Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, Missouri. This study is the first to prove it."redux [07.20.01]
The New York Times Genome Mappers Navigate the Tricky Terrain of Race
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"Scientists planning the next phase of the human genome project are being forced to confront a treacherous issue: the genetic differences between human races."
"With the decoding of the human genome largely complete, government scientists are beginning to construct a special kind of genetic map that would provide a shortcut to locating the variant human genes that predispose people to common diseases."
"The question the scientists face is whether that map should chart possible differences that may emerge among the principal population groups, those of Africans, Asians and Europeans."redux [03.18.01]
The Atlantic Online The Genetic Archaeology of Race
"Genetics research is demonstrating that the differences in appearance among groups are profoundly incidental, but these differences do have a genetic basis. And although it's true that all people have inherited the same genetic legacy, the genetic differences among groups have important implications for our understanding of history and for biomedical research. These complications in an otherwise reassuring story have thoroughly spooked the leaders of the public and private genome efforts. The NIH has been collecting information about genetic variants from different ethnic groups in the United States, but it has refused to link specific variants with ethnicity. Celera has been sequencing DNA from an Asian, a Hispanic, a Caucasian, and an African-American, but it, too, declines to say which DNA is which.
This strategy of avoiding the issue is almost sure to backfire. It seems to imply that geneticists have something to hide. But the message emerging from laboratories around the world should be hailed, not muzzled. It is one of great hope and promise for our species."redux [06.11.01]
The New York Times Do Races Differ? Not Really, DNA Shows
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"Scientists have long suspected that the racial categories recognized by society are not reflected on the genetic level.
But the more closely that researchers examine the human genome -- the complement of genetic material encased in the heart of almost every cell of the body -- the more most of them are convinced that the standard labels used to distinguish people by "race" have little or no biological meaning.""
""Ethnicity is a broad concept that encompasses both genetics and culture," Dr. Anand said. "Thinking about ethnicity is a way to bring together questions of a person's biology, lifestyle, diet, rather than just focusing on race. Ethnicity is about phenotype and genotype, and, if you define the terms of your study, it allows you to look at differences between groups in a valid way."
“Bioinformatics will be at the core of biology in the 21st century. In fields ranging from structural biology to genomics to biomedical imaging, ready access to data and analytical tools are fundamentally changing the way investigators in the life sciences conduct research and approach problems. Complex, computationally intensive biological problems are now being addressed and promise to significantly advance our understanding of biology and medicine. No biological discipline will be unaffected by these technological breakthroughs.”BIOINFORMATICS IN THE 21st CENTURY
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