Genes, race, & disease (Leh 300)

The news is so accomodating to our course:

The Journal of the National Cancer Institute has just published two studies (abstracts here and here; go thru the library to read the full articles) on disparate outcomes in sex-specific cancer survival between black and white women.

An accompanying editorial notes that this disparity is likely a mix of biological and socio-economic factors, but that a better understanding of that mix is required:

One can conclude that some of the racial differences in outcome in breast, ovarian, and prostate cancers are due to differences in biology. Many of these differences are caused by factors related to socioeconomics and culture. Perhaps advances in our understanding of biology will lead us away from concerns about race and we will better define high-risk populations using pathological markers of disease.

Thus, it may make more sense from a health perspective to refer to ‘populations’ (which may incorporate not only genetics but also social and environmental factors) rather than the current and far too imprecise categories of race and class.

Also, I was half-listening to Leonard Lopate on WNYC when I heard something about a clinical trial for stem cells; turns out they were discussing the first FDA-approved trial of hESC use in humans, in this case, for spinal cord patients. (Approval was granted in January of this year)

Frederic Gilbert has a brief comment on this trial in The Bioethics Forum of the Hastings Center Report; note the links to Geron, the sponsoring agency, for further information.


About proftp

I teach political science and bioethics as an adjunct at a CUNY school.
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