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New Rx for Genomic Medicine

Bridging the gap between the haves and the have-nots.

There is a growing sense that the much-hyped era of genomic medicine won’t realize its potential until drug companies, governments, and universities around the world share their discoveries; the sequencing of the human genome is an example of what can happen through collaboration. An allied movement argues that the rich nations, in their rush to decipher and capitalize on genomics and proteomics, are almost totally overlooking the consequences of this quest on developing nations.

One of the leading voices of this camp is David Weatherall of the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, Oxford University. In a recent editorial in Science, Dr. Weatherall writes that if “the full potential of genomics for health care is to be fulfilled, there will have to be a complete change of emphasis in education and research in the richer countries toward a more global view of disease and its consequences.” He concludes that the time is nigh for researchers in the United States, Europe, Canada, and Japan to reconsider how advances in genomic and proteomic medicine are made available to the developing world. “Otherwise,” Dr. Weatherall adds, “the widely held fear that the fruits of genomics will simply widen the gap in health care between rich and poor may become a reality.” — Stephan Herrera

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