Genetics impasse?

A quick note on an NYT story today, front pager “Genes Show Limited Value in Predicting Diseases” by Nicholas Wade.  The lead:

The era of personal genomic medicine may have to wait. The genetic analysis of common disease is turning out to be a lot more complex than expected.

Since the human genome was decoded in 2003, researchers have been developing a powerful method for comparing the genomes of patients and healthy people, with the hope of pinpointing the DNA changes responsible for common diseases.

This method, called a genomewide association study, has proved technically successful despite many skeptics’ initial doubts. But it has been disappointing in that the kind of genetic variation it detects has turned out to explain surprisingly little of the genetic links to most diseases.

Can’t say I’m all that surprised.  I think in recent years the “man=computer” and “genes=software” metaphors have been way overdone, leading people to think that ‘cracking’ the genome would explain everything.  While it’s surely important, and study should continue, I think there’s got to be a whole lot more going on.

In related news, this post from Boing Boing is interesting… “Our ‘Missing’ Chromosomes” on the evidence of better explained linkage between human and ape genes, indicating that in humans chromosomes may have fused together which are separate in apes.

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