Dr. Butte, an assistant professor of medicine at Stanford, is among a growing band of researchers trying to redefine how diseases are classified ? by looking not at their symptoms or physiological measurements, but at their genetic underpinnings. It turns out that a similar set of genes is active in boys with Duchenne and adults who have heart attacks.
The research is already starting to change nosology, as the field of disease classification is known. Seemingly dissimilar diseases are being lumped together. What were thought to be single diseases are being split into separate ailments. Just as they once mapped the human genome, scientists are trying to map the ?diseasome,? the collection of all diseases and the genes associated with them.
Shown here is the current map linking different diseases, represented by circles, to the genes they have in common, represented by squares. Each circle represents a disease or disorder and is scaled in proportion to the number of genes associated with that disease.