Thursday, May 1, 2008

Ball's in Bush's Court and Why I Love Genome Technology Online!

I hope everyone who reads this will subscribe to Genome Technology Online (This is not a paid advertisement this is my opinion).

Why? If you are asking this, it is likely because you have never received the email newsletter.

I am always impressed by their ability to capture the essence of what is going on in the Genome World Daily. They have excellent reports for purchase as well. But frankly, just getting the email everyday makes my heart twitter (I can't get sued for using that word can I?)

Today they poke fun at Corporate Genomics and make mention of 2 very well written articles. One over at the Wall Street Journal. Yesterday I took Marilyn Chase to task. Marilyn, please don't get mad. Just give me a call next time you are writing about genome studies.

And another story at Portfolio. The WSJ article will be lifted by me or maybe they lifted the Sherpa.

Despite heavy marketing by some genetic-test makers, the wide use of genetic tests has been held back by a variety of factors, including questions about the tests' usefulness and concerns that results could be used by employers and insurers to discriminate against people. Critics argue that many tests can't accurately identify which people are at risk for various illnesses.

Tests are often pricey, costing hundreds of dollars. "In the common diseases, there's more predictive information today in knowing family members had it than knowing" the results of the newly developed genetic tests for such conditions as Type 2 diabetes, says David Altshuler, a professor at Harvard Medical School.

Anna, I loved the article. Well written and balanced. Maybe you could get together with Marilyn?

Even better is the article from Portfolio, where KK at The Quantified Self/Wired contributor and David Ewing Duncan go over corporate genome scans. It is funny, but in KK's blog he finds 23 differences in the genome scans between 23 and Me and DeCodeMe....Get it? "23" David also points out several differences. Gentleman, your risk differences from companies is simple.....Unless viewed in the light of family history, these scans are not relying on much in the way of science. One or two very large studies does not equal good medicine. I am sorry to say that, but it is the G_d's honest truth. You need medical guidance to truly determine these risks.

Hmmm...that's funny. I have only been saying that for the last year.....

To give equal time to these parties...We recently saw a wonderful patient who had one of the Navigenics scans. Here's what we found. The patient had a much higher risk for heart disease based on family history. In addition, may have a familial hypercholesterolemia. I am certainly glad that the patient came to us for a family history. We are seeing more and more of these patients. I think it is because of articles like these.

The message is simple. Don't expect much from these scans and in fact you should have some evaluation by a trained medical professional to make the most out of your results. Not to say these companies can't do great things. They just need a litlle collaboration. In fact Our Values mirror theirs.

As for the WSJ quote by Keri Stefansson. Does he think I am an idiot? You may be able to slip this past the public, but not me.......Obviously all that training in neurology made him forget the 1 year of training he did in internal medicine, Or gave him dementia.

Kari Stefansson, chief executive of deCODE genetics Inc., an Icelandic company that markets an array of genetic tests as well as a broad genetic scanning service, says tests for such conditions as Type 2 diabetes are important, partly because negative results may convince consumers to try healthier behaviors. "All preventative medicine is based on the assumption that you can raise concerns," he says. "Are these guys telling me it hasn't been worth measuring cholesterol all these years because other factors also affect heart disease?"

Well Keri....maybe you forget to tell the paper that an elevated LDL or a Low HDL or a high triglyceride level are like way more predictive of risk for Heart Attack than your TCF7L2 genetic test is predictive of Diabetes. At least by a factor of 10 if not 100. In fact his statement just pisses me off. How dare you, as a medical doctor, compare these things! It is disingenuous. You obviously want to confuse the public and have only one agenda. Selling your test! Shame on you... You are supposed to be a scientific physician. What kind of comparison is that? Do you remember your hippocratic oath? I would expect that hyperbole from non-physicians, but from you???? I am embarrassed.

"In every house where I come I will enter only for the good of my patients, keeping myself far from all intentional ill-doing"

The Sherpa Says:

I hate saying that I have big news when the television journalist drops my interviews in the end. But I have some even bigger news. Stay tuned, I will be able to tell you about it in 2 weeks. It does look like the United States will have big news too, since GINA has now passed in the House. So I say President Bush...."Ball's in your court" As for these articles on corporate genomics. Like Senator Obama, scrutiny is not doing the corporate genomics companies any good.


Anonymous said...

Big news in 2 weeks? Just like the big news that occured a while back?

Steve Murphy MD said...

You did read the fact that the story was dropped right????

Alberto said...

Thanks for pointing those two articles out. The eroin addiction predisposition issue is nonsense.

Steve Murphy MD said...

Well......I can honestly say that there are better things to be testing for than trying to say it's "ok" to do heroin.

Jean said...

Seems that you are so close to this stuff that you are no more objective than some of the people you are so attack with such passion. The funny thing is that in 10 years we will look back and read your 'information' and laugh and the simplicity of it all.
Often people very close to a scientific field don't get it till it becomes obvious to everyone else it seems... Maybe because they are afraid of becoming non relevant?


Steve Murphy MD said...

Instead maybe I should laud faulty science, believe hyped results and articles, sing koombaya and look for deeper wisdom.

I think that up until the Sherpa hit the blogosphere many in this arena were doing just that.

I feel that we need some reality testing here. I am not attacking anyone. I am just pointing out shortcomings that need to be remedied. Some will be done by the market. Others will be done by the government. Others, I will help remedy.

As for the simplicity.....dream on. This information is so complex we will take years sorting it. 10 years on minimum.

I am close, we need someone on the front lines to parse the fog of war.

Thank you for your readership. I appreciate your opinion Dr Jean

-Dr. Steve