• Editorial

Waiting for the genetic revolution


Kamerow, D. (2008). Waiting for the genetic revolution. BMJ (Clinical research ed.), 336, 22. DOI: 10.1136/bmj.39437.453102.0F


Will 2008 be the year that genomics delivers on its promises?

The sequencing of the human genome was completed in 2003. Since then we’ve been told that we’re living in the “genomic era”—the biggest revolution in human health since antibiotics, some say, and the beginning of scientific, personalised medicine. In the United States we’ve spent about $4bn (£2bn; €2.8bn) since 2000 to fund the National Human Genome Research Institute, so it seems fair to ask what we’ve got for our money.

Certainly there have been dramatic improvements in the efficiency of DNA sequencing and other related technologies. Polymerase chain reaction and other amplification techniques have made what was exotic and painstaking work commonplace and quick. And I guess that some indirect applications of genomics can be found in the doctor’s surgery. Human papillomavirus DNA testing, rapid tests for some infectious diseases by polymerase chain reaction, HIV analyses, and other diagnostic laboratory tests have found their way into general practice.

Genomic tools have been used to develop some drugs that specialists use, and more are being evaluated all …