From genes to disease

As a follow-up to Sherry’s overview of our discussion on EHRs, I would like to share this (controversial?) article about how electronic health records might be used to develop drugs for common diseases. A biopharmaceutical company is using anonymous genetic information from an Icelandic healthcare database containing the medical records for the country’s 275,000 inhabitants to develop diagnostic tests and drugs:

“The relative homogeneity of Iceland’s population should make it a good place to investigate the genetics factors involved in human disease. […] Isolated populations provide a relatively simple genetic background with which one can investigate the genetics of disease. Because so many Icelanders share the same ancestors, and because family and medical records are so thorough (the national health service began in 1915), it should be easier to identify a genomic locus linked to disease among Icelanders than it would be in an outbred population. They have already proved their worth in studies of conditions caused by single defective genes, for example, rare hereditary conditions, including forms of dwarfism, epilepsy, and eye disorders.

Read more…

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