Have Breakthroughs in Dna Research Led to more Harm than Good – No

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"Have Breakthroughs in Dna Research Led to more Harm than Good - No"
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When this question is read and answered in its literal terms, the answer is clearly an unequivocal and resounding no. In other words the question is asking have DNA research led, with this being the key word as in past tense and up to this point in time, to more harm than good to date. As none of us has possession of a functioning crystal ball we certainly can not knowingly predict what the future holds, but as of now DNA research has been an incredible cornerstone of pharmaceutical and biotechnology research leading us in directions that were unheard of as little as 15 20 years ago. This also is not a question of ethics or morals as many would have us to believe, but it must be viewed purely as a question of science, pharmacoeconomics and most importantly the potential contributions this particular scientific discipline will make to current and future research and development efforts.
In fact, there is little doubt in the world's leading scientific minds that this is the future of medicine. Pharmacology is the science dealing with the effect of drugs on living organisms. Genomics is the study of an organism's entire genome. Investigation of single genes, their functions and roles is something very common in today's medical and biological research, and can not be said to be genomics but rather the most typical feature of molecular biology. Pharmacogenomics is defined as the branch of pharmaceutics which deals with the influence of genetic variation on drug response in patients by correlating gene expression or single-nucleotide polymorphisms with a drug's efficacy or toxicity. In short, it is the study of how an individual's genetic inheritance affects the body's response to drugs. The term comes from the words pharmacology and genomics and thus is the intersection of pharmaceuticals and genetics. Pharmacogenomics is the whole genome application of pharmacogenetics which examines the single gene interactions with drugs.
By doing so pharmacogenomics and DNA Research aims to develop rational means to optimize drug therapy with respect to the patient's individual genotype to ensure maximum efficacy with minimal side effects. Such approaches promise the advent of "personalized medicine" in which drugs and drug combinations are optimized for each individual's unique genetic make-up. Moreover R&D efforts focused in these disciplines will produce more powerful "super-medicines" predicated on the proteins, enzymes and RNA (ribonucleic acid) molecules associated with genes and diseases. This will potentially facilitate drug discovery to produce therapies targeted to specific diseases, and the drug will not treat the disease but completely destroy and eradicate it altogether. Admittedly it sounds rather futuristic and perhaps even a trifle "Orwellian". Although George Orwell's view of control and customization in the then futuristic novel, 1984, had to do with totalitarian government; we are similarly referring to gaining complete control of the genetic response to a particular drug's holistic exertions on the human body.
To date most pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies have been successful with their "one-size-fits-all" approach to drug development. Since the cost of bringing a drug to market today is approaching a staggering $1 Billion price tag, will these companies be willing to develop alternative drugs that may only service a small percentage of the population? Based on trends and R&D analyses since the turn of the century there is no doubt the worldwide major pharmaceutical companies as well as emerging biotechnology firms are staking their future success in this area of research. Roughly 60% of most biopharma companies' revenues get poured back into R&D. The pharmacogenomic portion has been difficult to track primarily due to its incredible growth, but estimates conservatively place the amount of R&D effort being spent in this discipline to be approaching $1 Trillion US! There are several sizable pharmaceutical companies that are basing their entire future on pharmacogenomics. They are truly putting all of their proverbial "eggs in one basket". One CEO was quoted indicating there is no need to diversify as this is the only path drug development will be traveling within the next decade. Now that is one bold statement.
Whatever the case may be, there is no doubt this is the new frontier of medicine. Top researchers and scientists in their respective fields of expertise are talking about curing diseases such as Alzheimer's, AIDS, cancer, crippling arthritis, cardiovascular and other diseases that previously once diagnosed it was only a death warrant for the patient, and the physician could only treat the symptoms to increase the patient's quality of life to the best of his or her ability until the end. As such, this should not be a question of ethics or morality. The debate should end here and the R&D efforts must continue undeterred.

More about this author: Michael Tatum

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