Friday, November 11, 2005

Research: Race-based medicine?

The NYT reports on the discovery of a gene that raises the risk of heart attacks in African-Americans by 250%. Six percent of African-Americans carry the gene, called leukotriene A4 hydrolase (catchy, isn't it?), which is involved in the synthesis of leukotrines, agents that maintain a state of inflammation. There's a drug currently in phase III trials that affects a different gene that is also involved in control of leukotrienes. Should a separate study of the drug with only African-American subjects be conducted?
Dr. Troy Duster of New York University, an adviser to the federal Human Genome Project and a past president of the American Sociological Association, said he saw no objection to a trial, provided it focused on African-Americans with the risk-associated variant of the gene and took into account that people with ancestry from different regions of Africa might show variations in risk. But Dr. Charles Rotimi, a genetic epidemiologist at Howard University, said a separate study of African-Americans would not be desirable. The variant gene may be overactive in African-Americans because of their greater exposure to deleterious environments, Dr. Rotimi said.

If that's what Dr. Rotimi said, does he mean that a drug shouldn't be studied because all we need to do to eliminate the increased risk for African-Americans with the leukotriene A4 hydrolase gene is to eliminate their "greater exposure to deleterious environments"? Yeah, forget the pill, we'll just ensure that African-Americans are no longer disproportionately exposed to deleterious environments. I'll just make a few phone calls...

Link (free reg req'd)

1 comment:

mdmhvonpa said...

Ummm, while you're at it ... make sure that white, red and yellow ppl are no longer exposed to deleterious environments because to not do so would be racist, you know? You know, 1 billion Chinese live in 'deleterious environments' and all in China. I suppose we should fix that too.