In this paper I examine how the promissory value of genetics is constituted through processes of scale and scaling, focussing on the relationship between “rare” and “common” forms of disease. I highlight the bodies and spaces involved in the production of post-genomic knowledge and technologies of Alzheimer's disease and the development of new disease-modifying drugs. I focus on the example of the development of a monoclonal antibody therapy for Alzheimer's disease. I argue that the process of therapeutic innovation, from genetic studies and animal models to phase III clinical trials, reflects the persistent importance of a genetic imaginary and a mutually constitutive relationship between the rare and the common in in shaping visions of Alzheimer's disease medicine. Approaching this relationship as a question of scale, I suggest the importance of attending to how and where genomic knowledge is “scaled” or proves resistant to scaling.
Milne R (2020) The rare and the common: scale and the genetic imaginary in Alzheimer's disease drug development. New Genetics and Society, vol. 39, issue 1, pp 101-126, March