Can Genome Sequencing Prevent Disease?
With affordable genomic testing within reach, should you rush out to have your genome sequenced? Probably not, say medical experts. The tests in and of themselves will be of limited use.
What's the Latest Development?
The cost of sequencing one individual's genome is approaching the $1,000 mark, a price at which medical professionals consider gene sequencing a clinical option. But a new study of 24 identical twins, who share the same genetic information, suggests that genetic predisposition to diseases represents a very limited picture of future health. The study, conducted at Johns Hopkins University, concluded that most people given a genetic sequencing test will be given negative results for most predispositions and that "these negative test results will, in general, not be very informative."
What's the Big Idea?
Gene sequencing may yet prove to be a great medical tool but at the moment, "it's not ready for prime time—for a number of reasons," says Muin Khoury, director of the Office of Public Health Genomics at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Besides the fact that we know of very few genes that strongly correlate with specific diseases, "most diseases are not inherently genetic in nature, and even if they seem to have some associated genetic hallmarks, those are not strong enough to be able to say for certain that a person will or will not get the disease at some point in his or her lifetime."
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- The study measured the stiffness of blood vessels in middle-aged patients over time.
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- The scans could someday become a widely used tool to identify people at high risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer's.
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When we first set the Dark Horse Project in motion, fulfillment was the last thing on our minds. We were hoping to uncover specific and possibly idiosyncratic study methods, learning techniques, and rehearsal regimes that dark horses used to attain excellence. Our training made us resistant to ambiguous variables that were difficult to quantify, and personal fulfillment seemed downright foggy. But our training also taught us never to ignore the evidence, no matter how much it violated our expectations.
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