Das Humangenomprojekt im Dienste der Menschen

COLD SPRING HARBOR – Seit der erstmaligen Sequenzierung des menschlichen Genoms im Jahr 2000 hat sich die Entwicklung in der Genomwissenschaft in bemerkenswerter Weise beschleunigt. Rasche Fortschritte in der DNA-Sequenzierungstechnologie bedeuten, dass eine Entschlüsselung des menschlichen Erbguts zu erschwinglichen Preisen nicht mehr weit entfernt ist. Tatsächlich könnten menschliche Genome schon in den nächsten Jahren für nur 1.000 Dollar sequenziert werden. Leider ist das aktuelle Establishment in der biomedizinischen Forschung auf ein derartiges Szenario jedoch völlig unvorbereitet.

Wissenschaftler glauben oft, dass ihre Mission darin bestünde, neue Erkenntnisse in Biologie und Genetik zu gewinnen und die Übertragung der Ergebnisse in den klinischen Bereich anderen zu überlassen. Dementsprechend arbeiten viele Genetiker in der „hohen Wissenschaft“ der Genomik, einschließlich genomweiter Assoziationsstudien, die auf häufige genetische Variationen beim Menschen abzielen.

Allerdings ist weithin bekannt, dass gewisse Mutationen in Familien vorkommen können, wodurch das Risiko gewisser Krankheiten – beispielsweise Brustkrebs, Sichelzellanämie und zystische Fibrose – dramatisch erhöht ist. Leider haben sich viele Molekulargenetiker jeder Verantwortung dafür entzogen, die Gesamtbelastung durch solche Krankheiten zu senken.

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