`Geonomics has big role in drug discovery'

HYDERABAD, DEC. 30. Predicting a paradigm shift from preventive to predictive medicine in the coming decade, Dr. Seyed E. Hasnain, Director, Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics, Hyderabad said that genomics will have a revolutionary impact on diagnostics and new drug discovery.

Dr. Hasnain was speaking after inaugurating a two-day National Symposium on ``Changing Horizons in Genetics - Human Welfare'' organised by the Department of Genetics, Osmania University, here on Sunday.

It is now possible to mark those genes which are central in the origin or development of a particular disease. Not only that, it is also possible to identify the efficacy and safety of a particular drug to treat that disease for that particular individual.

Dr. Hasnain gave the example of the new drug HER-2 for the treatment of breast cancer. This drug has been found to work only with some patients and where it works it cures the cancer completely! The genetic makeup of the person afflicted with breast cancer decides the effectiveness of this drug and Dr. Hasnain predicted that genetic profiling of entire populations would help evolve public health tools where it would be possible to give personalised medicine based on the genetic profile of the individual.

Similarly in AP, the CDFD, in association with L.V. Prasad Eye Institute, has been using genetic profiling to identify populations and individuals prone to Primary Congenital Glaucoma, so that targeted public health strategies and treatment regimes could be administered.

One of the biggest challenges for the further development of genetic knowledge of humans and disease causing pathogens was the redundant computer hardware. Already the fastest and smartest computers were proving incapable of handling the mass of complex data that was required for analysis and Dr. Hasnain said that very soon computer will have to go beyond the peta-byte configurations that are available today to keep up with the pace of developments in genetics.

The symposium, being attended by over 200 delegates from all over the country, will comprise 10 invited papers and fifty poster presentations.

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