By Evan Charney, Duke Institute for Brain Science, Duke University
One of the hopes and promises of the Human Genome Sequencing Project was that it would revolutionize the understanding, diagnosis, and treatment of most human disorders. It would do this by uncovering the supposed “genetic bases” of human behavior. With a few exceptions, however, the search for common gene variants -“polymorphisms” – associated with common diseases has borne little fruit. And when such associations have been found the polymorphisms seem to have little predictive value and do little to advance our understanding of the causes of disease. In a 2012 study, for example, researchers found that incorporating genetic information did not improve doctors’ ability to predict disease risk for breast cancer, Type 2 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis .
THE SEARCH IS REAL, AT LEAST!
And to date, not a single polymorphism has been reliably associated with any psychiatric disorders nor any aspect of human behavior within the “normal” range (e.g., differences in “intelligence”).
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