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The Ethics of Genomics

The rise of genomics and pursuit of personalized medicine has been spurred by any number of factors, including the relatively low cost to analyze an individual's genome, the promise of medical breakthroughs and personalized treatments, a push for preventive medicine and patients trying to be proactive in their healthcare.

Two key genomics markets are growing: the clinical and research-oriented focus such as the Obama administration's Precision Medicine Initiative and the direct-to-consumer focus, which entails companies collecting DNA samples from individuals and mailing them genetic testing results.

While these drivers of genomics are all aligned with benefits and the promise for more targeted, effective healthcare, personalized medicine also presents a myriad of ethical questions and risks.

Genetic tests offer probabilities, not definite diagnoses An indication in a person's gene of a disposition toward a certain ailment does not mean that person will definitely be diagnosed with that ailment later in life, but making sure patients understand this distinction is critical. "This isn't deterministic. We have to be careful in the message to consumers that this is not a life sentence or this is not fortune telling," says Rebecca Lord, vice president of user experience at digital health consultancy Medullan.



Read the full article via Becker's Hospital Review.

Learn more about the Center for Bioethics at Children's Mercy.