Genetic variation key to susceptibility to disease and reaction to medications

The Irish Times
June 25, 2018

Sixteen European Union countries have signed up to a European genome project to collaborate on DNA research and, regrettably, Ireland is not yet one of them. This, as an Irish GP, concerns me, as this failure has profound implications for the health of the nation. An Irish genome project is crucial if we are to develop a modern and effective health system.

I, like the blue whale, the fruit fly and the foxglove, have a genome which is my genetic make-up. We Irish also have our own variant of the human genome, the characteristic make up of our DNA as a people. Dr Gianpiero Cavalleri in the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland has shown that those of Irish descent have a distinctively homogenous make-up, which makes it comparatively easy to map our susceptibility to disease, as well as our reaction to medication. When you consider that there are about 50 million people on Earth who claim Irish descent, this is important work, not just for Ireland but for the world. Dr Cavalleri and his fellow geneticists would like to start off by taking samples from 10,000 people from the island of Ireland. (…)

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