What Our Genes Mean for Medicine

Copyright © The National Human Genome Research Institute

Medicine has come a long way since the turn of the 20th century. Doctors and scientists have found vaccines and treatments for many diseases, allowing people to live longer and healthier lives. Historically, medicine has been about at a single phenotype mutation/variation and creating a kind of “magic bullet” remedy for it. However, now scientists and doctors are finding that in order to treat and even understand the complexities behind diseases, they must look at diseases as part of an entire network inside the human genome–also known as network medicine.

Network medicine is simply a network based approach to human disease. Most diseases rarely arise from a single gene abnormality, but rather stem from disturbances of the complex intracellular and intercellular networks in the body. Up until relatively recently, scientists did not know what all the pieces were in a human cell; that’s where mapping the human genome came into play. Now that they do, we realize we are still missing something.

“What we’re missing is the manual or blueprint of how to the pieces actually fit together,” Albert-Laszlo Barabasi, PhD, says. “We started to get such wiring diagrams, but when you look at them in how genes, the proteins and everything works together, you see a mess and it’s hard to see how it all works together.” So now the challenge is how do we make sense of this?

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2 responses to “What Our Genes Mean for Medicine

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