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Genomic Testing as a Lifetime Health Resource?

Credit: mrallen/adobe

Credit: mrallen/adobe

By Ainsley Newson & David Amor

If lives could be saved by being “forewarned” by a genomic test, should we perform genomic testing of all babies at birth?

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Rapid developments in genomic testing methods have made the sequencing of a person’s DNA faster and cheaper than ever before. The latest gene sequencing machines can sequence all 20,000 human genes in less than 3 days at a cost of less than $2000 per person. This is comparable to the cost of testing just one gene using slightly older sequencing machines.

But what are the scientific and ethical issues involved in the use of genomic information as a “lifetime health resource”? Are we ready for the wide application of genome testing in people who are otherwise well?

Genomic Testing

Genomic testing has proven to be a powerful research tool, and already has facilitated many major research breakthroughs, particularly in the fields of cancer medicine and rare genetic diseases. More recently, clinical genomic testing has emerged as a component of individual health care, and a range of genomic tests are now offered by public and commercial laboratories.

Clinical genomic tests are already highly effective and cost-efficient in the diagnosis of patients with rare or unusual presentations. A recent study published in Genetics in Medicine by the Melbourne Genomics Health Alliance (http://tinyurl.com/z94bw7z) demonstrated that genomic testing of previously undiagnosed children...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.