Thursday, August 20, 2009

Where from here?

This is the question I am asked so often.

1. We have the steady progress towards cheap genomes.
2. We have the biggest supporter of personalized medicine running the NIH
3. We have "some" clinical awareness of personalized medicine
4. We have the government aware of the shenanigans of some unscrupulous DTC advertising, etc
5. We have several milemarkers under our belts with genome science..... We are moving in the "right" direction, but where do we go from here

There are several areas we need to investigate. I would like to sum a few of them, both basic science and clinical.
Basic Science first.

1. We need to understand precisely how gene regulation occurs in the face of certain common environmental exposures. Trans Fat, Tobacco Smoke, Alcohol, Stress. Is it RNA? Is it Methylation? What precisely is it? Maybe it is all of them and more. But the quicker we understand that, the quicker we can look for signs of these ill effects.....and stop them molecularly

2. We need a good CNV/Indel etc database. Toronto sure, I have heard that. But seriously. We need this and we need it now. Give me Normals, Give me abnormals, Give me phenotypes......This is a very key missing piece of the puzzle which neds to be completed in the next 2 years

3. Junk DNA investigation. This will come once we have a database like the one in Iceland......I am certain this will come. I think that next to nuclear fission, the investigation into the "junk dna" will prove to be one of the most fruitful works of governmental science. Yes, you can quote me on that one.

4. Systems biology. This is one of those areas where we will eventually realize the Greeks were right with phlegmatic systems vs bilious systems.......

Now onto the top 3 Clinical Science targets

1. A complete revamping of the current risk stratification system. What do I mean? We need to develop a process for efficiently introducing genotypic risks into current clinical risk stratification. We need to evaluate the with and without and change in AUC......
1b. We need to evaluate the role of integrating family history in some risk stratification models. I know Dr.
Khoury/Scheuner are working on these things, but it sure would be nice to have odds ratios and RRs/HRs for adverse drug outcomes, common autoimmune disease risks, COPD, Alcoholism, Suicide, etc. types based on fam hx integrated with current models.

2. Pharmacogenomics......end of story, we need more science here for more drugs. There is not nearly enough clinical study weight on outcomes. I understand why from the Pharma end, but the US government cannot ignore its utility, especially with the pain they feel from Medicare part D
This area has tremendous promise, but has not seen the will from genetics departments, mine looked at my cross eyed when I wanted to do a PGx study. There has to be a will in basic medical science departments like pharmacology and cell biology to understand the processes and polymorphism which really screw up a drug's effect.....or really enhance it. And there has to be a will in clinical departments to study the outcomes with different therapies based on genes.....

3. I want to know what behavioral outcomes are likely with knowledge of one's family history risk versus genome scan risk vs both together vs with no knowledge.

These are some low hanging fruit that could get accomplished and probably already are........

The Sherpa Says: These are not stretch targets, these are do-able things in the next 5 years or so. If we can accomplish most of these, we will be well on our way to evidence based personalized medicine, which is where we need to be........

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