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The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues recently issued a request for public comment on a variety of issues raised by large-scale human genome sequencing, and just last week The New York Times ran an article on Washington University’s effort to save the life of Dr. Lukas Wartman, who was diagnosed with leukemia, by fully sequencing the genes of his cancer cells and his healthy cells for comparison. After finding that Dr. Wartman had a normal gene that worked in overdrive, spurring growth of his cancer, researchers were able to identify and use a new drug—which had been tested and approved only for advanced kidney cancer—to shut down his malfunctioning gene. Researchers say that Dr. Wartman’s case is an illustration of the importance of genes in driving a cancer, as opposed to the organ or tissues where the cancer originates.

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