When a genomic research project is planned, its medical applications may not be immediately apparent, and the subsequent process of translation to the clinic may be fraught with difficulties. Two new Correspondence articles in Genome Medicine provide insights into the challenges of moving systems biology research towards clinical utility, and the advance steps that can be taken in all types of genomic studies to improve clinical benefit.
In “Planning for translational research in genomics”, Hawkins and colleagues propose a number of key factors for consideration at the early stages of a genomic research project, which could facilitate commercialization if a clinical application is found. These include the types of collaborative agreements which must be put in place, the benefit-sharing frameworks which funders and research institutions need to consider, and the importance of informed consent from study participants.
Clermont and colleagues discuss the emerging discipline of systems medicine in “Bridging the gap between systems biology and medicine”. The authors propose a roadmap for the development of interactions and exchange between systems biology and the clinic, noting that interdisciplinary training, changes in regulations, improvements in technology at the point of care, and discussion in the mainstream literature are among the diverse factors which will help to drive the field forward.
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