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June 19, 1991

Medical Genetics

JAMA. 1991;265(23):3132-3134. doi:10.1001/jama.1991.03460230082021

The era of molecular medicine continued unabated in 1990. Rapid advances in recombinant DNA technology allowed the molecular characterization of scores of human genes, many involved in genetic disease or essential for normal cellular processes. Fully two thirds of all papers presented at the 1990 American Society of Human Genetics meeting involved molecular methods and descriptions of disease genes. The polymerase chain reaction, a rapid DNA amplification method, has now been complemented by a DNA-ligation amplification, thus providing even easier methods for studying genes. Fully 4200 scientific articles using polymerase chain reaction have been published, with 1700 articles appearing in 1990 alone. We believe that no technique has had such a rapid and profound impact on medicine since the development of monoclonal antibodies. The lay press published a record number of articles dealing with DNA, gene mutations (such as cystic fibrosis), and inherited disease conditions (neurofibromatosis), resulting in patients frequently