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When the human genome was partially completed two years ago, it seemed to herald an end to some of the world’s most widespread killer diseases. Yet the focus was firmly on the West, although infectious and, increasingly, degenerative diseases have never stopped taking an enormous toll in the developing world.

In this article, David J. Weatherall, Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford University’s Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, argues that genomic technology is needed in the developing world. But, he says, it won’t succeed without a complete shift in Western education and research towards a global view of disease and its consequences.

Is it feasible? Already, the transfer of cost-effective DNA technology has been shown to be possible. But many more partnerships need forging – between researchers in North and South, and between big donor agencies and universities. If these fail to emerge, the fear that genomics will widen the healthcare gap between rich and poor may become a reality.

Link to full article in Science

Reference: Science 302, 597 (2003)

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