Genome Project Is a Bust: Expert

$3B effort to pinpoint disease-causing genes too broad, Duke doc says
By Clay Dillow,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 16, 2008 11:40 AM CDT
Mapping the genome was thought to be a breakthrough for finding the root causes of diseases, but one doctor says the common causes don't exist.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – The idea behind mapping the human genome (and spending $3 billion to do so) was to uncover common gene variants that cause disease. But a Duke University geneticist says that natural selection has worked better than we thought, that there are no common variants but rather a multitude of rare ones, the New York Times reports.

Dr. David Goldstein’s view suggests current research is flawed, and that’s why genetic mapping has discovered only a handful of genes accounting for a small percentage of risk. If Goldstein is correct, decoding genomes to look for disease-causing variants won’t work because variants will not be the same across populations. Finding even common variants is difficult, and locating rare ones is currently beyond reach.