Genomics and World Health

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Genomics and the global health divide

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Public health genomics

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impact of genomics on public health practice | British Medical Bulletin | Oxford Academic

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Maher Campino and Taane G. Clark Hochfeld, Sahle M. Asfaha, Marco Alessandrini, Tyren M. Pepper Weatherall Merryweather-Clarke, and Kathryn J. Robson Pollitt Genomics in Medicine and Health—Regional Africa Schlebusch Yoshimatsu, and Olufunmilayo I. Olopade Kromberg and Trefor Jenkins Daar Arab and Middle East Patton Adib, and Andre Megarbane Al-Aqeel Asia-Pacific Daar Padilla and Bradford L. Therrell Mehra and Gurvinder Kaur Singer, Mitali Mukerji, Samir K. Brahmachari, and Abdallah S.


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Genetic testing may also be used to identify important single gene subsets of disease that require different treatments. Diabetes provides a good example where identifying the genetic subtype Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young MODY indicates to the physician that the patient will respond well to drug treatment with sulphonylureas rather than requiring insulin. Cancer patients are cared for across all specialties within the health-care service and are a major user of health care with over new cases in the UK each year.

The detection of a tumour's genetic signature may be used to make a precise diagnosis, enabling a more accurate prognosis and better-tailored treatment. Increasingly, drugs are available that are targeted to the genetic features of a cancer, requiring genetic testing of the cancer cells to determine their potential response.

For example, chemotherapy drugs such as Cetuximab, used for treating metastatic bowel cancer, target the epidermal growth factors EGFR signalling pathway to inhibit tumour growth. In the UK, a Government White Paper in and a more recent strategic report on genomics presented to the UK Department of Health and other government offices 21 have identified that developments in clinical applications of genomics are taking place throughout clinical medicine and not just within the confines of specialist genetic services.

Can the ‘genomics revolution’ tackle inequality?

What is perhaps less widely acknowledged is that these new paradigms will need to be shaped and developed on a population basis through public health advice. The importance for health care public health lies in ensuring that innovation is evidence based, cost-effective, timely and equitable. Cardiovascular disease, cancers, diabetes and mental health disorders are the common chronic diseases that form the main focus of attention for public health programmes in the developed world.