Nicholas Wade, The New York Times, June 12, 2010:
In announcing on June 26, 2000, that the first draft of the human genome had been achieved, Mr. Clinton said it would “revolutionize the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of most, if not all, human diseases.”
At a news conference, Francis Collins, then the director of the genome agency at the National Institutes of Health, said that genetic diagnosis of diseases would be accomplished in 10 years and that treatments would start to roll out perhaps five years after that.
“Over the longer term, perhaps in another 15 or 20 years,” he added, “you will see a complete transformation in therapeutic medicine.”
The pharmaceutical industry has spent billions of dollars to reap genomic secrets and is starting to bring several genome-guided drugs to market. While drug companies continue to pour huge amounts of money into genome research, it has become clear that the genetics of most diseases are more complex than anticipated and that it will take many more years before new treatments may be able to transform medicine.
“Genomics is a way to do science, not medicine,” said Harold Varmus, president of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, who in July will become the director of the National Cancer Institute.
The last decade has brought a flood of discoveries of disease-causing mutations in the human genome. But with most diseases, the findings have explained only a small part of the risk of getting the disease. And many of the genetic variants linked to diseases, some scientists have begun to fear, could be statistical illusions.