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Scientists See Promise and Challenges in Translating Genomics to the Clinic

Bridget M. Kuehn
JAMA. 2011;305(13):1285-1286. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.376.
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Like many patients, pioneering genetic researcher James Watson had a hard time tolerating the β-blockers he was taking to control hypertension. “They put me to sleep,” he said during a February symposium at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). But unlike most patients, Watson was able to deduce the cause of this adverse effect by examining his genes.

One of the first human beings to undergo whole-genome sequencing(Wheeler DA et al. Nature. 2008;45[7189]:872-876), Watson found that he carried a certain genetic variant that made him a slow metabolizer of the drug. So he and his physician reduced his dose, and he is now able to control his blood pressure without such adverse effects.

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Scientists are hoping to build on the scaffolding of information gleaned from the Human Genome Project to develop improved clinical interventions for patients.



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