Genetics and the Future of Medicine
Around the world and all through time that man-kind has walked the earth, medicines have been used to cure a variety of diseases and disorders. The field of medicine has made astonishing advancements from the times of Voo Doo and “medicines” simply being successful due to the placebo effect, to the current studies of medicine that physically cure. Today’s pharmaceutical industry is said to be “one size fits all”, in the belief that one kind of medication for a certain problem, is the right medicine for everyone. This idea could be part of the distant past. Using genetics, a certain kind of medicine could be prescribed so that there are no gene inducing side effects, and to receive the best results. On the other hand, genetics in the future will be able to prevent genetic disorders far before symptoms arise. Research and advancements in genetics will be the “new wave” of medicine.
DNA varies from person to person, and these tiny variations could mean different effects of medication. According to an article titled “Medicine Gets Personal” by Marc Wortman, published in Technology Review, this could play a big role of medicines of the future. Eventually, knowledge of one’s personal genome will help one’s doctor decide which medication could be the best for him/her. With this genetic information, the doctor will know whether or not the prescription will have any hazardous side affects. The tiny variations of DNA are called single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). In order to be able to decipher how certain medications will interact with DNA, scientists must first identify as many variations as possible and figure out which ones have a significance in the effects of medicines.
Though the pharmaceutical industry likes to believe that single drugs work for everyone, most do not. Genetics is helping to answer questions about why some drugs work better on certain people, and why others suffer tragic side effects. The Journal of the American Medical Association published a study in 1998 estimating that 2.2 million people had negative effects from prescription drugs, and of the 2.2 million, roughly 106,000 died. According to Dale Pfost, the president and CEO of the Princeton Orchid Biosciences, the pharmaceutical industry withholds a major secret. Pfost claims that the industry spends more money on curing people who have bad reactions to drugs, as opposed to developing drugs that will not have the side effects. Within the next five years, tests that...