WINNIPEG, Sept. 28 /CNW Telbec/ - Canadians can expect to carry their
entire gene profile on a credit-card sized chip or within a secure database
within a dozen years, predicted one of Canada's leading medical researchers.
In a keynote address to the annual meeting of The Royal College of
Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, Dr. Guy Rouleau, a neurogeneticist at the
University of Montreal and a Canada Research Chair in Genetics of the Nervous
System, said the dramatic progress in mapping the human genome over the last
25 years means individuals will in the next decades be able to know their
personal predisposition to a myriad of diseases.
"I believe 'personalized medicine' is the next advancement in the
delivery of health care," said Dr. Rouleau. "By 2020, every individual will be
able to have their whole genome sequence done, perhaps for a thousand dollars,
and a couple years later, for maybe a hundred dollars. I am convinced we are
heading in this direction."
Dr. Rouleau pointed out that one individual, Craig Ventor, has already
had his gene sequencing done and has shared the results publicly. "We need to
develop ethical principals in concert with personalized medicine. The data we
gather needs to be kept in a database and protected from privacy breaches and
used only when sufficient information warrants their use in any specific
situation," added Dr. Rouleau.
The use of individual gene sequencing will change the current approach to
health care diagnoses, treatment and monitoring. The individual patient could
know what illness she or he is at risk for, and monitor for any symptoms so
that early detection helps confirm a diagnosis, the correct therapy, and
appropriate ongoing treatment.
Dr. Rouleau and his team have made tremendous strides in understanding
the genetic causes of Amyotropic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), and other
neurodegenerative and psychiatric diseases. His important work, highly
regarded around the world, has resulted in the identification of many
disease-causing or predisposing genes. So far, the Human Genome Project, 98
per cent complete, has identified slightly overt 20,000 genes in human DNA.
Dr. Rouleau believes this is an underestimate and that there are as many
"There are currently almost 2000 gene-linked diseases, which represents
about 7 per cent of of the total number of genes," said Dr. Rouleau. "I
believe there could be as many as 10,000 more disease linked genes, many of
which will be identified in the next few years, given the technology
Dr. Rouleau is this year's winner of The Henry Friesen award presented by
the Canadian Society for Clinical Investigation and the Royal College of
Physicians and Surgeons of Canada for his extraordinary contribution to the
Human Genome project, and his identification of genetic links to a vast number
of major illnesses.
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