Rafal Iwasiow is Vice President of Research and Development at DNA Genotek. This article was written with contributions from Carlos Merino, Rob Shipman, Anne Bouevitch, Ashlee Brown, Christina Dilane, Evgueni Doukhanine, Mike Tayeb, Bitapi Ray, Cassandra Kelly-Cirino, Jacques Niles, and Adele Jackson.
Recently, DNA Genotek’s research and development team attended the “Genomics: the power and the promise” meeting in Ottawa, Canada put on by the Gairdner Foundation and Genome Canada. It was an event that my team enjoyed greatly and it was in our home city – you can’t get more convenient than that. The meeting attracted a diverse group of scientists interested in hearing from world class researchers on a broad number of genomic topics. The topics ranged from human health, anthropology, livestock breeding, plant genetics, and even alternative energy. The talks opened our minds to the future power of genomics while demonstrating how far we have come since the human genome was first published. Following the meeting, my research and development team thought it would be beneficial to provide a summary of the sessions we attended at this conference. We hope you enjoy our synopsis of talks by (Dr. Eric Lander, Phillip Sharp, Svante Paabo, Tom Hudson, Peter Jones, Stephen Scherer, Michael Hayden, Bartha Maria Knoppers, Curtis Suttle, Michel Georges, Kluas Ammann).
- The common perception that the genome is more than a simple collection of genes has changed in the past few years. The genome is a complex and dynamic system that relies on the proper regulation of protein-coding genes and other types of regulatory elements (ie. miRNAs, snoRNA etc.). Through the study of such elements, the scientific community will eventually understand the principles of gene regulation, helping to identify and treat many diseases in the future.
- There have been 3 major revolutions in genetics.
- The discovery of DNA structure, genes, genetics, etc.
- The exploitation of DNA via genomics
- The integration of life sciences at the molecular level with physics, engineering, computational methods, mathematics and more. This is termed the new biology for the twenty first century. This integration needs to provide an approach to producing a higher yield of food crops with a lower level of environmental impact; address world hunger by addressing the local/global food distribution problems; and address world fuel shortages with programs that promote crop production for biofuels.
- To help mitigate risk by screening for detection at the earliest stages
- For precise diagnosis
- To develop new therapies for more effective treatments.
So what could the future of cancer medicine hold? We could see many more treatment decisions impacted by molecular profiling which would match treatment to specific patients.
The research and development team found this meeting to be very insightful as it presented where genomics has been, where it is now and where it could potentially go next. I hope that you found some of these summary points interesting. Did any of them surprise you?