Dr Ray Greek

The President of Europeans for Medical Advancement responds to the prediction that the mapping of the human genome will increase animal experimentation
Click to follow
The Independent Online

As the human genome project nears completion, it is interesting to watch the vested-interest groups use "spin control" to ensure their paychecks will not be affected by this achievement.

As the human genome project nears completion, it is interesting to watch the vested-interest groups use "spin control" to ensure their paychecks will not be affected by this achievement.

If ever a discovery highlighted how little society now needs animals to model human disease, the mapping of the human genome has done just that.

Humans suffer from diseases that have uniquely human manifestations. Not surprisingly, the study of humans revealed the genetic cause of cystic fibrosis, sickle-cell anaemia, various cancers including testicular cancer, heart disease, and every other genetic factor in disease we currently understand.

Speaking of the use of animal models for genetic diseases, the pro-animal experimentation journal Comparative Medicine states that animals might be used to find out which gene causes a disease in humans. However, "results to-date suggest that the predictive value of a candidate gene, established in such an animal model, is rather low." In fact, it can be questioned whether the use of animal models is the most effective way to detect candidate genes for complex human disorders. Due to the complexity of the genotype-environment interactions, the pathways that lead to an aberrant phenotype often differ between man and animal.

Perhaps the most exciting result of completing the human genome will be the effect it has on drug development. Pharmacogenetics is a new field that studies the effect of genetics on individual variations in response to drugs. Scientists will soon be able to place your genes on a wafer and watch how they interact with a medication, thus increasing the likelihood that you will receive a medication uniquely designed for you. Animals are clearly no longer needed.

Comments