Conquering Common Diseases through Genetic Research
Why are so many people still vulnerable to common diseases?
We currently have more questions than answers about the causes of common diseases.
Each year in the United States almost 200,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer, and 70,000 die from this dreaded disease. How often do we hear about a woman with young children who suddenly discovered she developed life-threatening breast cancer?
Do you know someone whose life, or whose family’s life, has been drastically altered by mental illness? Psychiatric illnesses continue to impose an enormous burden on our society. Yet not all patients respond to available drugs and many discontinue treatment because of severe side effects.
Many patients who suffer heart attacks at relatively early ages do not have high serum cholesterol. The causes of other common conditions, such as hypertension and adult onset diabetes, remain unknown. We need new scientific information to control these disorders.
Sources of hope (and frustration)
Genetic insights offer hope, since chronic diseases often run in families. Genetic differences explain the high frequency of a disorder in one family and the low frequency in another. We can unravel the chain of metabolic events leading to disease once we find the mutated gene that begins this chain. (How do mutated genes lead to disease?) This then leads directly to potent new approaches to prevention and treatment. (How?)
The scientific community, while acknowledging the potential impact of this strategy, has not succeeded in identifying many major disease genes. Despite this lack of success, scientists continue to use and re-use the same two conventional technologies. Sadly, most medical research funding continues to support repetitive studies using these technologies, thus perpetuating the problem. Once again the medical community has refused to change its ways even in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence. The DIRF offers a fresh proven approach to identify new common disease genes.
The DIRF’S genetic approach
The Foundation’s Director, Dr. Michael Swift, developed an alternative technology that methodically identifies specific genes whose mutations cause our society’s most common illnesses. This approach efficiently uses both clinical information and molecular data to determine true genetic relationships. This unique, powerful technology has already found a major breast cancer gene, and another gene implicated in common psychiatric illnesses. We must pursue these research leads to better prevent, diagnose, and treat these conditions. With enough resources, our technology can determine the genetic causes of other disabling diseases.
We are tired of seeing vibrant lives interrupted by illnesses that could be prevented or effectively treated – are you?