Unnecessary Genetic Complexity Needs to be Unpacked to Advance Precision Medicine

May 21, 2020 | Biotechnology

Reading time: 3-4 minutes

This week's Lab.Equipment Bio Tech news is sourced from Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News (GEN):

After the mapping of the human genome in 2003 and researchers would identify a gene associated with a 44 % risk of breast cancer in women, for example, it seemed that protecting them might be as simple as deactivating that gene. But the promise of such personalized medicine has not fully materialized, say two McMaster University researchers, because the full sophistication of the genetic blueprint has a more complex and far-reaching influence on human health than scientists had first realized.

In the hope of integrating genetics more closely with medical practice, McMaster evolutionary biologists Rama Singh, PhD, and Bhagwati Gupta, PhD, carried out an exhaustive and critical review of decades of research in their field. They lay out their conclusions in an article “Genes and genomes and unnecessary complexity in precision medicine” published in Genomic Medicine.

“The sequencing of the human genome heralded the new age of ‘genetic medicine’ and raised the hope of precision medicine facilitating prolonged and healthy lives. Recent studies have dampened this expectation, as the relationships among mutations (termed ‘risk factors’), biological processes, and diseases have emerged to be more complex than initially anticipated. In this review, we elaborate upon the nature of the relationship between genotype and phenotype, between chance-laden molecular complexity and the evolution of complex traits, and the relevance of this relationship to precision medicine. Molecular contingency, i.e., chance-driven molecular changes, in conjunction with the blind nature of evolutionary processes, creates genetic redundancy or multiple molecular pathways to the same phenotype; as time goes on, these pathways become more complex, interconnected, and hierarchically integrated,” write the investigators... More of this in the GEN Blog.

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