Science Sunday #9

Science Sunday #9

I can’t believe I’ve had the blog going for 9 weeks already!  The time has really flown by.  Big shout-out of “Thanks!” to everyone who’s read or followed Isn’t That Grad so far.  Please continue reading and sharing with your friends!

This week’s article is Enlisting a Computer to Battle Cancers, One by One, from the March 27 edition of the New York Times.

This article relates back to a topic brought up in Science Sunday #7:  whole genome sequencing.  That article highlighted the problems that still exist with whole genome sequencing, and the reasons that it is not yet ready to be used in doctors offices.  This week, we’re looking at whole genome sequencing from the perspective of using it to treat cancers that have horrible prognoses, and for patients who will certainly die if something drastic is not done.  Watson, the computer who played Jeopardy, is learning information from scientific papers and then being fed genome sequences from cancer patients, the goal being that Watson can combine all of that information to identify drugs that may help treat the cancer patient based on specific mutations in their DNA.

I chose this article because it highlights the flip-side of the argument highlighted in my SS#7 article, and it is important to learn about all sides of an issue before taking a stance.  That being said, I hope that if you missed SS#7, you go back and read it this week.

At what point do you think it is okay to introduce whole genome sequencing into a patient’s care?  How do you, and how should doctors, balance the benefits and the risks of this technology?


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