The Human Genome Project (HGP) has created the field of genomics – understanding, and using, genetic information. The knowledge, resources and technologies arising from the HGP enables us to understand how our genes contribute to human health and disease. Genetics is playing an increasingly important role in the diagnosis, monitoring and treatment of diseases.
The ultimate goal is to use information on how genes cause or contribute to disease, to develop new ways to treat, cure, or even prevent the thousands of diseases that people suffer from. But getting from the point at which a gene is identified in having a role in a disease, to effective treatments is a long, and challenging, task.
Gene therapy has been, and continues to be, considered for diseases such as cystic fibrosis caused by a faulty gene.
Drug design has also been revolutionised, as researchers create new classes of medicines based on information on protein structure and function, rather than the ‘trial-and-error’ methods that were used in the past. Drugs targeted to specific sites in the body, and ‘personalised medicine’ - use of medicines suited to your genes - promise to have fewer side effects than many of today's medicines.
So what type of person works in genetics in the pharmaceutical industry?