13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
A World of Genetic Possibilities,
This review is from: Genes, Chromosomes, and Disease: From Simple Traits, to Complex Traits, to Personalized Medicine (FT Press Science) (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Program (What's this?)Genes, Chromosomes, and Disease: From Simple Traits, to Complex Traits, to Personalized Medicine by Nicholas Wright Gillham provides a historical and current perspective in the field of genetic research. The book is well written and relatively easy to understand although the reader would benefit from having a rudimentary background in biology and genetics. Even without such a background Gillham has done a great job of providing enough clarity so that you can understand the main points postulated in the book without getting lost in the minutia.
When reading Genes, Chromosomes, and Disease you get the sense of how complicated, wonderful and mysterious the human body is and how one mutation can result in a devastating disease or condition. Understanding how mutations that are referred to as single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP's), along with the ability to classify them, can move genetic medicine toward the ability to literally provide "personalized medicine" for the patient. Possibly one day we can eliminate such conditions as: cancer, cystic fibrosis, Down syndrome, progeria, sickle cell anemia, Tay-Sachs disease, Alzheimer's, asthma, diabetes, allergies, bi-polar, schizophrenia, heart disease and a host of other diseases.
In the chapter, "Ethnicity and genetic disease" Gillham states the following:
"In conclusion, genetic disease is not linked to ethnicity. Rather, the so-called "ethnic genetic diseases" are more prevalent in some populations than others either because carriers are or were at a selective advantage or because the frequency of carriers in the population increases by chance when a small group of founders sets out to establish a new community."
I believe that is an important piece of information for those who want to use the science of genetics to discriminate or racially stereotype certain groups, as has been done in the past, based on their ethnicity. In the chapter that discusses IQ and intelligence it becomes very apparent how certain groups can easily be discriminated against especially when using flawed data.
Then there is the issue of securing and protecting genetic information. Should one be concerned how medical insurance and life insurance companies might try to use this information to avoid issuing policies or denying policies? Probably not, on May 21, 2008, President George W. Bush signed the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) into law. The act is designed to prohibit discrimination against individuals by insurance companies and employers based on their genetic information. There are also many states that have enacted statutes designed to limit genetic discrimination. But there is always the issue of how the information is going to be safeguarded in an age where such information may be stored on a laptop that is stolen or an employee who works for a genetic company steals your genetic information to possibly sell to a competitor.
This book offers hope to cures from genetic diseases and opens a world of possibilities. You also appreciate the complexities of life and how genetic mutations can result in devastating conditions. Deciphering the human gene along with the decreasing costs of genomic sequencing will hopefully bring a time where treatment can be precisely targeted against diseases and the onset of diseases can be predicted earlier with complete accuracy. Direct-to-consumer gene testing currently exists and is able to provide information to potential disease gene carriers while also offering to provide a genetic risk for diseases that a person will be susceptible. Consumers will need to learn what this information means and make health related decisions in conjunction with their medical doctor. There are also ethical questions to be discussed such as should potential parents terminate a pregnancy if their unborn child tests positive for a genetic disorder. As will all positive progress there is always a downside that will need to be addressed and the field of genetic testing will be no different.
Genes, Chromosomes, and Disease is an enjoyable read and provides a glimpse into the future of medicine. I recommend this book.
Genes, Chromosomes, and Disease: From Simple Traits, to Complex Traits, to Personalized Medicine (FT Press Science)(19 customer reviews)