Epistasis Blog

From the Computational Genetics Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania (www.epistasis.org)

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Do we need genomic research for the prevention of common diseases with environmental causes?

A new paper by Khoury et al. in the American Journal of Epidemiology discusses the role of genomics and gene-environment interactions in epidemiology.

Khoury MJ, Davis R, Gwinn M, Lindegren ML, Yoon P. Do we need genomic research for the prevention of common diseases with environmental causes? Am J Epidemiol. 2005 May 1;161(9):799-805. [PubMed]

Abstract:

Concerns have been raised about the value of genomic research for prevention and public health, especially for complex diseases with risk factors that are amenable to environmental modification. Given that gene-environment interactions underlie almost all human diseases, the public health significance of genomic research on common diseases with modifiable environmental risks is based not necessarily on finding new genetic "causes" but on improving existing approaches to identifying and modifying environmental risk factors to better prevent and treat disease. Such applied genomic research for environmentally caused diseases is important, because 1) it could help stratify disease risks and differentiate interventions for achieving population health benefits; 2) it could help identify new environmental risk factors for disease or help confirm suspected environmental risk factors; and 3) it could aid our understanding of disease occurrence in terms of transmission, natural history, severity, etiologic heterogeneity, and targets for intervention at the population level. While genomics is still in its infancy, opportunities exist for developing, testing, and applying the tools of genomics to clinical and public health research, especially for conditions with known or suspected environmental causes. This research is likely to lead to population-wide health promotion and disease prevention efforts, not only to interventions targeted according to genetic susceptibility.

See also:

Khoury MJ, Millikan R, Little J, Gwinn M. The emergence of epidemiology in the genomics age. Int J Epidemiol. 2004 Oct;33(5):936-44. [PubMed]

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