Thursday, April 20, 2006

Medical research is starting to take account of people's race

Some excerpts below from an article in The Economist. I have left out all the agonizing

Last month researchers from the University of Texas and the University of Mississippi Medical Centre published a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine. They had studied three versions (or alleles, as they are known) of a gene called PCSK9. This gene helps clear the blood of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), one of the chemical packages used to transport cholesterol around the body. Raised levels of LDL are associated with heart disease. The effect of all three types of PCSK9 studied by Jonathan Cohen and his colleagues was to lower the LDL in a person's bloodstream by between 15% and 28%, and coronary heart disease by between 47% and 88%, compared with people with more common alleles of the gene.

In Dr Cohen's work, the race question proved decisive. Of the 3,363 volunteers who described themselves as "black", 0.8% carried an allele of PCSK9 called version 142X and 1.8% carried one called version 679X. Among 9,524 self-described "white" volunteers, a mere 0.02% carried version 142X and 0.04% carried version 679X. By contrast, 3.2% of white people carried the third allele under study, version 46L, while only 0.7% of black participants did. The researchers found that these relatively rare alleles correlated with low LDL, and did so in both blacks and whites, allowing them to conclude that it was the gene change that was crucial. If the team had ignored race and simply compared those who had heart disease with those who did not, and asked which alleles were linked to the risk, they would probably have missed the clinical significance of the alleles... Ignoring race altogether would be to the detriment of medical knowledge about the very people who might benefit.

In some cases, though, the difference clearly is genetic. A gene called UGT1A1 controls the metabolism of a colon-cancer drug called irinotecan. Approximately 20% of African-Americans, 15% of whites and 1% of Asians have two copies of a non-functional version of this gene called *28. Because individuals lacking functional UGT1A1 are at risk for serious complications if given the standard dose of irinotecan, genetic testing of patients before starting irinotecan therapy has become normal. Yet, while only 1% of Asians have two copies of the *28 allele, which is detected by the genetic test, 2.5% of Asians have another non-functional version called *6 which is not detected by the standard test. Indeed, it does not occur in blacks or whites. Thus, testing Asians for the *28 allele does not provide them with the same quality of care as it does for African-Americans or whites. "Identical treatment is not," as Dr Risch puts it, "equal treatment."



Publicity-seeking district attorney pursues evidence-free accusations: "Two 20-year-old Duke University lacrosse players were arrested early Tuesday on charges of raping and kidnapping a stripper hired to dance at an off-campus party.... The alleged victim, a 27-year-old black woman and mother of two children, told police she was attacked March 13 by three white men in a bathroom at a party held by the lacrosse team.... Defense attorneys have urged District Attorney Mike Nifong to drop the case, saying DNA tests failed to connect any of the 46 team members tested to the alleged victim. Nifong has said 75 percent to 80 percent of rape prosecutions lack DNA evidence. According to court records, a medical examination of the woman found injuries consistent with rape. Defense attorneys have said time-stamped photos taken the night of the party show that the alleged victim was injured and impaired before she arrived. The charges come two weeks before Nifong, appointed to the job last year after nearly three decades as a lawyer in the district attorney's office, is up for election. On Monday, he repeatedly declined to comment on the case."

Mark Steyn has a much-linked article here on the importance of stopping the nuclear program of the mad Mullahs of Iran before it is too late.

U.S. army guns no good: "Mikhail Kalashnikov, designer of the world's most popular assault rifle, says that US soldiers in Iraq are using his invention in preference to their own weapons, proving that his gun is still the best. "Even after lying in a swamp you can pick up this rifle, aim it and shoot. That's the best job description there is for a gun. Real soldiers know that and understand it," the 86-year-old gunmaker told a weekend news conference in Moscow. "In Vietnam, American soldiers threw away their M-16 rifles and used (Kalashnikov) AK-47s from dead Vietnamese soldiers, with bullets they captured. That was because the climate is different to America, where M-16s may work properly," he said. "Look what's happening now: every day on television we see that the Americans in Iraq have my machine guns and assault rifles in their armored vehicles. Even there American rifles don't work properly." Some US troops in Iraq have reportedly taken to using AK-47s in preference to the standard-issue M-16." [The M16 was prone to jamming from the start. But defence procurement always has been a prime example of bureaucratic bungling and corruption]

Australia takes the baby shortage seriously: "John Howard has signalled to low and middle-income families they can expect substantial tax relief in next month's Budget, after identifying the need to help with the costs of raising children as his Government's top priority. The Prime Minister also dampened expectations for significant change at the top end of the tax scale, saying the Government had already done a lot for high income earners, with the number of people paying the top marginal tax rate of 48.5 per cent falling from 14 per cent to 3 per cent in the past three years. Mr Howard said yesterday rhetoric on tax reform meant little without a focus on the pressures facing families. "My Government places the low and middle-income families of Australia squarely in the foreground of our policy lens," he said. "And strengthening the family - helping them with the costs of raising children - is the best way any government can reinforce social cohesion and stability in a changing world."

Dumb and dangerous: "It is no secret that politicians frequently put all of us at risk because of their real or willful ignorance. Most wars are a result of political miscalculations, but so are many recessions, depressions and other economic calamities. What follows are three examples where the political class is putting us in danger because of economic ignorance or worse. U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer, New York Democrat, and Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, have come up with a particularly dumb and dangerous proposal, and that is to place a 27.5 percent tariff on Chinese goods if China does not increase the value of its currency. They claim that this is necessary because the Chinese have a big trade surplus with the U.S.... Contrary to what the senators believe, our trade deficit is a sign of strength. Individuals, businesses and countries want to invest in the U.S. because they can obtain a higher rate of return here than they can in their home market, and they believe their money is safer in the U.S. To invest in this country requires having U.S. dollars, and the way to get U.S. dollars is by selling some goods or service that Americans want."

For more postings, see EDUCATION WATCH, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. (Mirror sites here, here, here, here, here and here). I also post several times a week on TONGUE-TIED. There is an archive of my "Tongue-Tied" posts here or here


Practically all policies advocated by the Left create poverty. Leftists get the government to waste vast slabs of the country's labour-force on bureaucracy and paperwork and so load the burden of providing most useful goods and services onto fewer and fewer people. So fewer useful goods and services are produced to go around. That is no accident. The Left love the poor. The Left need the poor so that they can feel good by patronizing and "helping" them. So they do their best to create as many poor people as possible.

The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialistisch)

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