To the Editor:
Mapping the human genome was not just about finding cures. It was also about understanding disease so we could provide better care.
That is now happening in spades throughout the health system. Genetic tests can identify the exact molecular nature of a patient or disease, allowing for better prevention and targeted treatment. The cure rate for childhood leukemia now exceeds 80 percent, compared with just 4 percent in the 1960s. This is a result of genetic tests that allow better timing and dosing of anticancer drugs.
Genetic tests for variations in a patient’s ability to metabolize blood-thinning drugs allow more precise dosing, potentially cutting hospitalizations by a third. Similar progress in care is being made for patients with H.I.V., colon cancer, melanoma, heart disease and adult leukemia — all thanks to knowledge from mapping the human genome.
Washington, June 15, 2010
The writer is president of the American Clinical Laboratory Association.