Race and Personalized Medicine

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Ron's pill

The Washington Post is running an article on race and personalized medicine on the front page today based in part on the oddly anachronistic concerns of Hamline University law professor Jonathan Kahn. From the article:

Federal examiners have rejected patents for genetic screening tests because the applicants did not explore their effectiveness for different races, adding to the debate about whether race has scientific validity in modern DNA-based medicine.

Some geneticists, sociologists and bioethicists argue that "black," "white," "Asian" and "Hispanic" are antiquated categories that threaten to revive prejudices. Others, however, say that meaningful DNA variations can track racial lines and that ignoring them could deny many benefits of "personalized medicine," which aims to develop tests and treatments tailored to a person's genetic makeup.

"Just because of past misuse — in eugenics and during World War II — doesn't mean we should bury our heads in the sand and shy away from valuable technology that could be leveraged to benefit all of humanity," said Esteban Gonzalez Burchard, who studies biological variations among races at the University of California at San Francisco. …

Jonathan Kahn, a law professor at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minn., discovered the patent rejections when he began sifting through applications, prompted by a 2008 patent office presentation that raised the race issue.

"Constructions of race as genetic are not only scientifically flawed, they are socially dangerous, opening the door to new forms of discrimination or the misallocation of scarce resources needed to address real health disparities," Kahn wrote in a report in the journal Nature Biotechnology in May.

Of course, the concept of race is problematic in all kinds of ways, but is taking into account a patient's ethnicity when considering diagnoses or prescribing medication a bad idea? A number of studies have found that the frequency of genetic variants (alleles) do vary considerably among racial groups. For instance, a 2009 study in the American Journal of Epidemiology looking at 90 gene variants reported: 

In this study, allele frequency (in 88 of 90 genetic variants) and genotype prevalence (in 87 of 90 variants) differed significantly by race/ethnic group….

Because differences in the occurrence of common human diseases among populations reflect variation in genetic factors, environmental factors, and their interaction, population-based genotype data, when coupled with other disease risk factors, will give us better insight into the causes of population differences in the occurrence of various diseases.

Many drugs are now being co-developed with diagnostics that help clinicians target patients who are more likely to respond to a treatment or avoid significant side-effects based on their genetics. So now diagnostic tests can be given to each patient regardless of their ethnicity to get some idea of how well a treatment is likely to work for them. As the Post article acknowledged toward the end: 

Until scientists learn more about individual genetic predisposition, race provides a useful proxy, some say.

But ethnicity as a proxy will be increasingly jettisoned when cheap whole genome sequencing becomes available later in this decade. In that case a patient's ancestry won't matter for clinical purposes at all since physicians will know his or her specific genetic makeup and prescribe treatments accordingly. In the Post article, National Institutes of Health researcher Vence Bonham, Jr. observed: 

"You are truly going to be looking at that individual, whether black, white or Asian. It's the individual's genome that becomes important to their disease risk as opposed to their socially identified race or ethnicity." 

Addendum: Just as I was posting this, I received notification of a new study reported in Nature Genetics that found a "genetic mutation unique to African Americans that could help explain why blacks are so susceptible to asthma." This genetic a variation in the located in a gene called PYHIN1 which is part of a family of genes linked with the body's response to viral infections. Of course, in the future genetic testing will reveal anyone who bears this genetic variant regardless of their ancestry. 

NEXT: Affirmative Action Heading Back to Supreme Court?

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  1. I’m confused. Genetic tests are not allowed to track race, but the census, employers, and voting districts are required to?

    1. Establish affirmative action for medicine, then we can talk about genetic analysis of race!

    2. Exactly. The people most insistent on affirmative action are often the same people haranguing us that “there’s no scientific basis for the concept of ‘race,'” and the ones most eager to use the Endangered Species Act to protect the most minor variant of some sort of wildlife.

      1. Im neither the former nor the latter, but here is no scientific basis for the concept of race.

        1. Sure there is, just as much as there is a scientific basis for the concept of nonhuman species and subspecies that are perfectly capable of interbreeding, but have behaviors (or habitats, etc.) that make it less likely than random chance.

          Race is a human construction in the sense that it exists because of large-scale human population behaviors. As long as those behaviors exist, there’s a clear scientific basis for it.

          There’s no good reason for those mating behaviors to exist among humans, and to the degree that they stop, races and ethnic groups will cease to exist.

          1. When you get right down to it, there’s no good reason for any mating behavior in people. It’s just taste.

        2. Please define your terms first.

          1. Indeed. Is not “race” simply what we would call “subspecies” if we saw the same kind of variations in an animal? Either both are valid concepts or neither of them are.

            1. In dogs, there’s much more morphological variation, but we call it “breed”.

              1. Good point. So the same people who have no problem with “subspecies” and “breed” get all upset over “race.”

        3. so, my kids can get sickle-cell anemia?

  2. Medical profiling!

  3. I knew it: Sickle Cell Anemia IS racist.

  4. Genome mapping is the new Tuskegee. Pass it on.

  5. Don’t let your eyes fool you. All races are the same.

  6. “RACE: IS THIS THE SAFEST WAY TO FUCK?”

    BLACKS, WHITES, ITALIANS, CHINESE, AND INJUNS: THESE ARE THE RACES OF THE WORLD.

    I POOPED LONG THREADS OF DIAMONDS ON THE BACK OF THE WORKING POOR.

    BUT I DIGRESS.

    THE REASON RACE FASCINATES US IS THAT WE DON’T HAVE AS BIGGA DICKS AS THE INJUN MAN. THAT’S AS TRUE AS LIFE ITSELF.

    THEY FUCKED LONG AND HARD TO POPULATE NOT ONE, BUT TWO FUCKING CONTINENTS!

    THAT’S STRANGE. I NEVER HEAD OF A FUCKHEAD BEFORE.

    GO AHEAD, CALL THE COPS, I’LL W WAIT.

    RIGHT-HANDED, LEFT-HANDED, MASOCHISTIC RACIST.

    GO DO YOURSELF IN THE ASS.

    GO DO YOURSELF IN THE ASS.

    GO ASS YOURSELF IN THE DO.

    GO YOURSELF ASS IN THE DO.

    FUCK ME.

    I WENT SEARCHING FOR A FIGHT, AND ALL I FOUND WAS REASON.

    I WENT SEARCH CHRISTIANCOURIER.COM, AND ALL I FOUND WAS TRUTH.

    BROTHER, WAYNE JACKSON…YOU SAVED MY LIFE.

    BROTHER WAYNE JACKSON. YOU SAVED MY LIFE.

    DEATH TO SMALL-TALK.

    KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK.

    FIX THE TOILET.

    GROW A FRIEND.

    PALEACRITA

    1. Christ-fag.

    2. Convenient, since Paleacrita is an anagram of “I tap la race”.

    3. This shit is gold.

  7. I notice that its always joos and honkeys denying the existence of race. Wonder why that is…

    And I’m sure Jon Kahn, lawyer extraordinaire, knows all about biology and genetics. Fucking idiot.

    1. We’re in the age of Scientism where matters of science are determined by lawyers.

      If Congress were to repeal the law of gravity we would all float away, because science is what the courts say it is.

      1. Hey Sarc, you know that the courts must defer to the legislature! If Congress repeals the law of gravity, who are the courts to say otherwise?

        1. Who is Number One?

          1. You are number six.

            1. I am not a number! I am a free man!

              1. Questions are a burden to others, answers are prison for oneself.

  8. “FEMALE PORNO: A BRIEF EXTRACT OF GOOY PLASTIC”

    WHY DO LESBIANS FUCK WITH PLASTIC DILDOS?

    THEY COULD HAVE REAL COCKS!

    DO THEY GET SPLINTERS?

    THESE ARE THE THINGS SIN AS BROUGHT INTO THE WORLD. MAYBE IT WILL BE WASHED AWAY WHEN JESUS COMES BACK TO JUDGE US ALL.

    PITY THE LESBIAN PORNSTAR.

    PALEACRITA

    1. Splinters from plastic?

      1. well, if you left a plastic dildo out in the sun long enough, maybe.

        1. Don’t the directions say “Stick it where the sun don’t shine”?

        2. WHY DO LESBIANS LEAVE THEIR DILDOS OUT IN THE SUN?

          SO CHILDREN CAN STUMBLE UPON THEM AND CHOKE ON THEM? IS THAT HOW LESBIANS GET THEIR KICKS?

          CHILDREN DESERVE BETTER!

          MEN DESERVE BETTER!

          LESBIANS ARE THE DIRECT DESCENDENT OF LOT’S UNHOLY FUCKING OF HIS DAUGHTER SEX DAUGHTERS.

          AND THE KEY TO THEIR HOMOSEXUAL LUST WAS THE REBIRTH OF SIN IN THE 1960S!

          1. MEN DESERVE BETTER!

            Agreed

            1. I’d that dude in the T-shirt is doin well enough.

        3. Heat makes plastic pliable – flaccid, if you will – so I don’t see getting splinters. Extreme cold, on the other hand…

          1. I was referring to the cracking caused by prolonged UV exposure.

    2. epi, and go get my coffee

  9. Since races have historically been self-sorting, it’s obvious why some illnesses/sensitivities/genetic quirks tend to be more predominant in some populations than in others. That the skin tones of these populations vary is irrelevant.

    SJS/TEN hypersensitivity to carbamazepine occurs largely in Asian populations, in whom a specific HLA-B polymorphism is found.

    As populations mix and blend, these racial cues will be less and less relevant and it will become more obvious that It’s the genetics, stupid.

    It always irks me when people bring race into discussions about genetics–they do it all the time in my field. As a general binning technique for pooling risks, it’s becoming less useful all the time.

    1. As populations mix and blend, these racial cues will be less and less relevant and it will become more obvious that It’s the genetics, stupid.

      Sure, but race exists precisely to the degree that assortative mating and genetic differences do. Race only becomes less useful as a general binning technique to the extent that racial differences stop existing so much.

      Is it the job of science to describe what is there, or what the scientists wish were true?

      I look forward to the day that racial differences don’t exist, but that doesn’t mean that I get upset when people note that genetic correlations still exist.

      1. “I look forward to the day that racial differences don’t exist”

        Why? Variety is the spice of life!

        1. It just means that the government will indirectly subsidize non-miscegenation by providing government-paid organ transplants for racially pure individuals while leaving the happas behind.

      2. Another step in a long-term goal of mine: the peaceful, nonviolent disappearance of the white race.

      3. I look forward to the day that racial differences don’t exist, but that doesn’t mean that I get upset when people note that genetic correlations still exist.

        That’s not what I said.

        The correlations only exist because of self-sorting, and as people blend, those correlations become less relevant. A genotype-phenotype correlation is race-blind, but IS relevant to ethnicity, which is much more specific.

        There’s a difference here that many people fail to grasp–even Ron made the mistake of mixing terms in a single sentence.

        Now, if you’re going to prescribe carbamazepine to a patient and they happen to be of Han Chinese descent, you’d be wise to have that patient genotyped first, or you risk seriously injuring that patient. Why? because the allele associated with carbamazepine sensitivity is present in a very large proportion of people of Han Chinese descent but not those of Caucasian or Japanese descent. So “Asian” race is irrelevant, but specific Han Chinese ethnicity IS relevant in this case.

        Here, I’ll try again, but let’s use the proper word, ethnicity, instead of race to describe what we’re really talking about, and maybe people would be a bit less jumpy.

        In some instances, ethnicity will be extremely relevant because a given genetic marker may be subject to influence by other genetic variants or environmental factors. In other instances, ethnicity is absolutely irrelevant (like OPRM1 and responsiveness to opioid therapy).

        Ethnicity and genetics is a natural combination in science, not a political thing that requires such deep moralizing or emotional baggage. When people insist on turning it into a problem (by insisting that it ALWAYS or NEVER be accounted for)… THAT’S what I find frustrating.

        1. oh for god’s sake, if you’re splitting hairs between race and ethnicity like the gov’t does, you’re just being a useless pedant.

          Seriously. In some circles, ethnic bigotry is more important than racial bigotry. Eg: It’s a problem for a korean woman to marry a black dude, for example, but hell should open up before she marries a Japanese man. Not that I’m complaining, I’m not into asian women really.

          1. But there IS a difference. If the government is splitting hairs, that’s their problem.

            It is a fact that Asian race won’t help you in the carbamazepine situation. The allelic variant is irrelevant in Japanese (ethnicity) but is relevant in Han Chinese.

            That’s a simple, well-documented fact. It’s not splitting hairs. Honest!

            1. Yet, ALDH and ADH variants track multiple east asian ethnicities. You are splitting hairs.

              See, I could say:

              The chinese ethnicity doesn’t matter. It is a fact that being chinese won’t help you in the carbamazepine situation. The allelic variant is irrelevant to the Miao group, but is relevant in Han Chinese.

              1. I must not be understanding why differentiating in this specific case is a problem. I certainly don’t know why you went for name-calling.

                If the question is “what’s the frequency of X?” The next question is “in whom?” A study will answer that question in some form or another, or it won’t. Sometimes it will be important for that question to be answered more fully in subsequent studies. Sometimes it won’t matter at all.

            2. If a Han child was adopted and raised in Japan, is he ethnically Japanese or Chinese? I’d say he’s ethnically Japanese and racially Han. This is why I think “ethnicity” is a really silly term for genetics.

              1. If a Han child was adopted and raised in Japan, is he ethnically Japanese or Chinese? I’d say he’s ethnically Japanese and racially Han. This is why I think “ethnicity” is a really silly term for genetics.

                The same goes for, say, Ashkenazim from the diaspora who adopt their local culture, or, Hispanics. Black hispanics, white hispanics, mestizo hispanics, are all lumped into a single “ethnicity”.

                Race is a pretty silly concept, too, and exact partitions are effectively scientifically indefinable, but that doesn’t mean that even the eye’s (the worst instrument probably) judgement of what one’s race is has zero correlation with actual biological phenotype, and in many cases it may be better than ethnicity.

                1. I think we’re using different definitions for these words.

                  It’s obviously impossible to have a coherent conversation when we’re not even using the terms the same way.

                  At least I know why you guys seemed to come out of left field.

              2. OTOH: Don’t tell Woo Jang-cheong that he was Japanese =)

                1. I think we’re using different definitions for these words.
                  It’s obviously impossible to have a coherent conversation when we’re not even using the terms the same way.

                  I don’t think there’s been any confusion. I just think using “ethnicity” to talk about genetics is a silly PC way of avoiding “race.” There really needs to be a new term that isn’t historically loaded to describe genetically identifiable groups of people.

                  1. The only distinction I think could ever helpful is something more specific than “Asian”. It’s not because I’m trying to be PC (anyone who knows me would laugh at the idea), it’s because “Asian” and “white” and “black” are terms commonly used when people think of “race”, but the terms are useless.

                    For my work, at least, I need information of higher granularity. Hence the apparently offensive hair-splitting.

                    What that information is called, I don’t really care. It would be nice, I agree, if we could have some words that weren’t so damned loaded.

                    1. Many people argue if Jesus was black or white. I do not know the answer to that, but I do know for sure he was Asian.

                    2. I think “race” can be as specific as one needs. The big 5 are well defined, but I don’t think anyone would be confused upon hearing someone described as e.g. “racially Yoruban.” Subrace and subspecies are accurate enough, but terribly unPC. Ethnicity is PC, but distorts the meaning of an otherwise useful word.

                    3. Also, what Azathoth said.

                    4. I’m not being PC for pete’s sake. I already said that in the test tube race or ethnicity or whatever the hell someone wants to call it doesn’t matter. I only said that in some cases, for as-yet-undetermined reasons, it makes a huge difference.

                      Instead of all or nothing, which has thus far led to no good, it makes sense to consider race/ethnicity/geographic heritage when it’s necessary to do so to avoid (a) killing people or (b) wasting their money on testing they don’t need.

                      That’s neither splitting hairs nor PC, it’s just scientific reality at this juncture.

                    5. Well, you use ‘asian’ instead of ‘mongoloid’.

                      Try mongoloid, caucasoid and negroid.

                      Break those into internal subspecies, and define the various admixtures.

                      Humans call their breeds ‘races’, PC humans do whatever dance they can to avoid using the word ‘race’ in anything but an accusation.

                      Stop worrying about the implications of 19th century racial attitudes–start exploring the continuing evolution of the human animal.

                    6. You’re not having the same conversation that I’m having. I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about, but it’s not personalized medicine.

    2. Ah the classic public elementary school strawman.

      You’re an idiot if you think race is determined by “skin tones”. That is but ONE manifestation. Seriously, only fucking idiots boil down the entire concept of race to skin color.

      Or are you saying you really can’t tell the difference between a Tamil and an African, and that you really can’t tell the difference between a Korean and a Belgian? Cuz their colors are nigh identical.

      1. ^Oh, and this goes for dumbshit racist trash and wilfully ignorant idealists, both.

      2. As a geneticist who never went to public school, I can tell you that race makes no difference to a genetic test. In the assays I run and design every day, the results do not, in fact, tell me whether the sample came from a Tamil or an African.

        So no. I really can’t tell the difference between a Tamil buccal swab and an African one, unless I happen to have met the subjects in question and have personal knowledge of their specific heritage.

        It’s only helpful in, say, looking for a particular SNP that is prevalent in certain populations due to sexual selection (self-sorting) and having nothing to do with traits traditionally associated with being a member of a particular race (such as facial features, stature, or melanin deposition).

        So when someone asks me “why didn’t you address race in this study of OPRM1”? I remind the questioner that race has nothing to do the phenotypes associated with that gene.

        Calling me a fucking idiot is a huge misdiagnosis, and the fact that you fixated on what was intended as a flip response to those who see race as color-based and/or relevant to a discussion of medical genetics shows who the real fucking idiot is. I’m sorry the science part of the comment was too complicated for you to address.

        Settle down, Francis.

        1. I can tell you that race makes no difference to a genetic test.

          What? Sure, you might not be able to reconstruct the ‘race’ of an individual (although evidence to the contrary is http://dodecad.blogspot.com/20…..-v-10.html)

          But the notion that SNPs don’t track individual familial (and by extension, a ‘fuzzier’ notion of race/clan) is utterly rediculous. This is a really important concept because when the gov’t does stuff like drug testing, measures of safety and efficacy can really be skewed for or against certain ethnic groups (statistically speaking) due to the distribution of variant alleles in those respective populations.

          1. Oh, fer pete’s sake. Did I not point out that the correlations are often there because of “self-sorting”? That’s right, I did.

            Genetics SHOULD be a part of drug testing. That’s how we know that Han Chinese should be tested for HLA-B*5701 before receiving Carbamazepine.

            If you’re doing drug testing with genetics, then you’re going to have (a) allele distributions that tell you which alleles and genotypes are prevalent among which ethnicities and (b) information on what, if any, adverse affects (or efficacy) are associated with which alleles and genotypes.

            Voila. Done.

            Ethnicity is relevant in some cases and completely irrelevant in others, and it’s often easy to tell which is the case in any given instance. (HLAs vs. OPRM1)

            I love that you guys are so worked up that you completely misinterpreted what I said. The statement you quoted still stands. The bands on a gel for a serotonin transporter RFLP don’t say jack squat about race and neither race nor ethnicity are important to the interpretation of that particular test.

            1. Did I not point out that the correlations are often there because of “self-sorting”? That’s right, I did.

              So, there’s no regional advantage to having the sickle-cell gene that has nothing to do with west africans preferring west africans?

              1. Again, ethnicity matters, race does not. Environment (external and genetic) matters in many cases, while in others it does not.

                Self-sorting is relevant, except in increasingly heterogeneous populations, where constructs of race will become less relevant. Your statement and mine are not in conflict.

                Besides which, I can only speak to genetics and medications, aka pharmacogenetics; disease genetics is not a topic I could discuss with any confidence.

                At any rate, I’m clearly not conveying my point very well, so I’ll just stop trying before you guys have a fit.

                1. You sound like a fool. Ethnicity has NOTHING to do with biology whatsoever. Ethnicity relates to language, religion, CULTURE. You are trying to sound clever and play semantics. The problem is you suck at it.

                  So yeah, when you say “ethnicity matters, race doesn’t” in terms, of genetics… you sound like an idiot.

                  1. For example, Serbs, Croats, and Bosniaks are all distinct ethnicities. But if you scanned through their genetic code, you would find them to be one and the same race.

                  2. Once we figure out all the little genetic quirks that play together to make HLA-B*1502 cause problems for people with the variant IF those people are of a certain ethnicity but not in others, then we can throw away the social construct entirely. We’re not there right now and may never be, because that’s a huge damn research project that no one is going to pay for. They’re just going to test “Asians” before prescribing carbamazepine, but won’t bother to test “Caucasians” because Caucasians with the same genetic variant are not at risk.

                    If you don’t like the words I used, I’m terribly sorry. Go talk to the guys who wrote the papers on SJS/TEN and Carbamazebine and take it up with them.

                    1. I’ve read upthread. Part of your problem seems to be that you assume Japanese and Chinese are the same race. Here’s a clue: they aren’t. Likewise, Ugandan (Nilotic) is a different race from Nigerian.

                    2. No I don’t assume that. This whole time you’ve been ascribing thoughts to me that I never expressed.

                      A physician or questionnaire may note “race: Asian”. My point is that the term does not provide sufficient information in some cases. A Korean or Indian or other patient whose ancestors hail from East if the Ural Mountains who needs anti-seizure medication may not appreciate it if his doctor won’t give him carbamazepine because he’s “Asian” and FDA says the drug carries a high risk of a potentially lethal side effect in patients if Asian descent.

                      In fact, the patient is only at risk if he has the genetic variant AND belongs to certain subpopulations of Asians.

                      No one knows specifically why, but it’s true.

                      And some of those ifs should be ofs. Damn iPhone.

                    3. Bronwyn, upthread you said, “Here, I’ll try again, but let’s use the proper word, ethnicity, instead of race to describe what we’re really talking about, and maybe people would be a bit less jumpy.”

                      It’s not the proper word. I understand that you professionally have to go with what they give you. But you should also understand that it’s retarded PC bullshit used to confuse and avoid various shrieking harpies.

        2. “So no. I really can’t tell the difference between a Tamil buccal swab and an African one, ”

          You could if you tried.

          “So when someone asks me “why didn’t you address race in this study of OPRM1″? I remind the questioner that race has nothing to do the phenotypes associated with that gene.”

          And you know this by ignoring race?

          1. No, we know this because in the case of OPRM1, the mechanism by which the variant allele generates a specific phenotype is completely independent of any other factor.

            Other genes are more squishy and ethnicity becomes much more important.

            I never said race was to be ignored but I will say that ethnicity is more informative and useful in those cases where it matters.

            1. “I never said race was to be ignored but I will say that ethnicity is more informative and useful in those cases where it matters.”

              Of course Ethnicity is more informative; it’s more specific.

      3. Zuo, the point is that “race” is a primitive, macro way of sorting things which we don’t need anymore now that we have genes. The only physical information we ever got from race was due to the strong correlation between certain sets of genes, some of which affected the phenotype in an easily distinguishable way. Now that we can deal with the genes directly, race is an outdated concept.

        1. Jesus H. I wish I’d said it that way in the first place.

          Thanks, cynical.

  10. Have we figured out what genes “define” race yet? Because until we do its a bullshit concept.

    Plus, it will be fun for “mixed race” children. They can take a dna test to determine which race they really are.

    1. Labradoodle or puggle?

      1. Labradoodle

        The day that stops being funny…

    2. Are colors a bullshit concept? Are species a bullshit concept? Classifications are always full of the same bullshit.

      Race is certainly not a fixed category; it’s entirely a product of human behavior. You can change the behavior to eliminate the genetic correlations, which is what I generally assume people who deny its existence are trying to do. I sympathize with their goals.

      1. Cladistics solves some of the classification bullshit.

        If you want to define race via cladistics, go right ahead, but I dont think it will have the result most think it will.

        Isnt some ridiculous percentage of people, whether “black”, “white” or “yellow” members of the Genghis clad?

      2. Let me restate: race isnt necessarily a bullshit concept. Race as defined currently, is.

    3. Holograms must be a bullshit concept too, since you can’t reduce it down to individual picture elements.

    4. Not everybody conforms to a race. Just as not every dog conforms to a breed.

      But lots do. Should we go ahead and pretend that they don’t anyway?

      That said, anybody who is “proud” of their race, is a retarded cretin.

  11. Different breeds of dog have different characteristics.
    They have common ancestors.
    Some are more intelligent than others.
    Some are more prone to certain ailments than others.
    They can interbreed and dilute characteristics of the breed, but that doesn’t negate that different breeds have different characteristics.

    What makes the human animal so damn special that we must deny the obvious?

  12. is not a defense in genetics:

    This genetic a variation in the located in a gene called PYHIN1 which is part of a family of genes linked with the body’s response to viral infections. Of course, in the future genetic testing will reveal anyone who bears this genetic variant regardless of their ancestry.

    You mean known ancestry

    1. On a related note [insert SLD here], mandatory paternity (and maternity, maybe) tests as part of the birth certificate process seems like a good idea.

      1. You must know my ex-girlfriend.

  13. The progressives don’t know when they have won. If race is considered relevant then minorities will be given preferable treatment. If not considered then market forces will favor those with money, asians and whites.

    Consider sex. Women have better health and still Obamacare has provisions for women but not men thus increasing the imbalance.

    The same assholes who are worried about descrimation now will be back in a few years complaining the products are unfairly benefitting whites and asians.

    1. the confusion here is that you are trying to assign a consistent ideology to progressives. At least one that goes beyond “we are the enlightened, and the rest of you are fascists just like my dad.”

  14. At least the alt-text allowed Ron to be sure his name would be on the article.

  15. As an aside, I suggest that whenever forms or census ask your ethnicity/race, put “North American”, or if you feel there are notable differences for your region, put something like “Southerner”, “Rocky Mountainian”, “Californian”. Its time to have some homegrown ethnicities and races. Fuck the Old World.

    1. whenever forms or census ask your ethnicity/race, put “North American”

      I’m seriously going to start doing this. Besides the middle finger to the PC folks, it’s actually somewhat descriptive of one’s ancestry, because I’d imagine that the combination of British Isles/German/other that makes up most white Americans probably is a bit different than white people in Europe, Australia, etc. Also, there’s probably some truth to the “I’m 1/8 Cherokee” stereotype. Many Americans, black and white, probably have a native ancestor if you go back far enough.

      1. What I’m trying to get at is that a “North American” ethnicity could describe the mix of ethnicities that make up North Americans.

  16. Well, the one positive is that it gives us the chance to empirically evaluate the impact of the lack of IP protection on the progress of a field — assuming that it’s only the patent office that interferes, and not, say, the FDA. This race consideration should apply to all patents, presumably, so everyone should be able to expect that IP won’t be used to shut them down. Will they research and invent, or give up and get out?

    1. Try getting the FDA to admit the same problem exists for conventional drugs. Of course they won’t! Because it means obamacare preferentially helps out white folk.

  17. cheap whole genome sequencing becomes available later in this decade

    Keep on dreaming, Ron. I *work* at the place that sequenced JCV and Desmond Tutu. Cheap whole genome sequencing isn’t happening by the end of the decade, I promise. Doubly true since we’re gonna have an economic crash first.

    1. Maybe, but it might be more useful to think of it in terms of “percentage of the population that can afford to have it done”, which will probably increase a good bit over the decade.

      1. Well, yes, going from 20 people sequenced to 1000 people sequenced will be an improvement.

        1. Really depends what you mean by “cheap”. It’s possible to sequence a genome for not much more than $5k now, inclusive of data storage. If you enrich for just the protein-coding fraction of the genome (aka the “exome”, which many folks believe will be most relevant for human disease) you’re at around $1k-2k now. That’s comparable in price to genome-wide genotyping chips that have already been applied successfully in genetic studies involving hundreds of thousands (millions?) of individuals worldwide since 2005 or so. From that perspective, “cheap” genome sequencing is already here.

          1. Where are you getting those figures?

            Seriously. A single 454 run costs upwards of 5-10k, then you have to check for sequencing artifacts, smooth out places where you have long poly-nucleotide runs, figure out VNTR lengths, probably do upwards of ~1000 ‘finishing’ sanger runs, which will cost you $3k minimum.

  18. Look, race simply reflects geographic or continental ancestry. Just as medical practitioners consider family history, race is essentially an extended version of that.

    It is essential that different continental populations or races are considered in testing new drugs for safety and efficacy. Politically correct fools like Kahn need to get a grip.

    http://bioethics.
    stanford.edu/events/documents/pdfs/burchard.pdf

  19. ***Im neither the former nor the latter, but here is no scientific basis for the concept of race.***

    Then you are ignorant of population genetics.

    “With this as background, it is not surprising that numerous human population genetic studies have come to the identical conclusion – that genetic differentiation is greatest when defined on a continental basis. The results are the same irrespective of the type of genetic markers employed, be they classical systems [5], restriction fragment length polymorphisms (RFLPs) [6], microsatellites [7,8,9,10,11], or single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) [12]. For example, studying 14 indigenous populations from 5 continents with 30 microsatellite loci, Bowcock et al. [7] observed that the 14 populations clustered into the five continental groups, as depicted in Figure ?Figure1.1.”

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pm…..PMC139378/

    1. I agree that there is no scientific basis for race, and I’m far from ignorant about population genetics. Human genetics vary along clines. If you divide the globe into races and compare in group variation to out group variation, you might get results that validate your divisions, but only because you never look at the similarities between people bordering the line on opposite sides. Move the line a bit in any direction, and you’ll get the same validation. Keep moving the line over and over again, and you’ll still get validation. When all classification schemes are equally valid, you should reject the divisions.

      1. I agree that there is no scientific basis for race

        Except for the fact that race exist.

        But don’t let your eyes deceive you.

        We’re all equal because there are magical words written by sorcerers in government who have declared it so, therefor it is.

        Facts be damned.

    2. From the article Schwartz cited:

      Native Americans are those that have indigenous ancestry in North and South America. Populations that exist at the boundaries of these continental divisions are sometimes the most difficult to categorize simply. For example, east African groups, such as Ethiopians and Somalis, have great genetic resemblance to Caucasians and are clearly intermediate between sub-Saharan Africans and Caucasians [5]. The existence of such intermediate groups should not, however, overshadow the fact that the greatest genetic structure that exists in the human population occurs at the racial level.

      So black skinned Kenyans and white skinned Egyptians are different races despite Somalians and Ethiopians acting as a genetic bridge between them, but the Eskimos of Alaska and the indigenous people of southern Argentina are the same race? I’m skeptical of that.

      1. The Eskimos and other Amerindians are from the same stock of original settlers. Ethiopians OTOH are racially mixed native East Africans and South Asians.

  20. But ethnicity as a proxy will be increasingly jettisoned when cheap whole genome sequencing becomes available later in this decade.

    Quite true.

    Besides, race is a very inaccurate proxy variable for genotype. The popular racial categories in America are the ones that happened to be around when racial definitions got canonized in the 1960’s. Scientific literature from 1850 to 1950 contains dozens of other racial classification schemes. According to Darwin, I’m biracial.

    1. I’m a labradoodle.

      Whoof!

    2. Pluto was a planet a couple years ago. What’s your point?

  21. The question is why does race or ethnicity or ancestry need to be brought into this discussion at all? The answer: it does not. Of course it makes a controversial topic for Ron. And some researcher may be interested in mapping the evolution and spread of a trait across continents. But the take-home point is that there is a variation in the PYHIN1 gene, which is linked susceptibility to asthma. Period. The rest is just guff. Stick to the science and leave the associations with skin color (black, white, yellow or stripy) to the bigots.

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