We often hear that genomics is going to cure disease. The simplified version that the communications office sends to the popular press goes something like this: sequence human genome, identify genes that cause diseases if defective, fix them, cure disease.
The reality is rather more complicated. Here’s a great example: Huntingtin Interacting Proteins Are Genetic Modifiers of Neurodegeneration, published today in PLoS Genetics. Huntington’s disease can indeed be traced to mutations in one gene, resulting in an altered form of the huntingtin protein, Htt. However, this study suggests that over 200 proteins interact with Htt and can modulate its effects to varying degrees. Plenty of targets to play with but definitely not as simple as “fix gene, fix disease”.