Cancer Scientists are Ignoring African DNA in Search for Cures
Cancer Scientists Have Ignored African DNA in the Search for Cures
Charles Rotimi first realized the future was passing him by around 2005. The Human Genome Project had recently finished spelling out an entire set of human DNA. Following that breakthrough, scientists in six countries across the globe had begun collecting blood samples to find genes responsible for various conditions, including serious diseases, which could lead to treatments. And Rotimi, who was leading that collection effort in Africa, had the sick feeling that history was repeating itself.
He wasn’t concerned about himself so much as his homeland. In the past, African patients have had poor access to medical advances, even as scientists use them as research subjects. Rotimi worried that genetics might again exploit the 1 billion people n sub-Saharan Africa, ignoring their need for treatments for HIV, tuberculosis, malaria and cancer. “The genomic revolution was going to fly over Africa,” he says, “and tomorrow’s medicine will not work for all.”