DNA Report Cards: Are They Real Health Advance?

First published on the blog of the Society of Internet Professionals (SIP).http://www.sipgroup.org/. SIP is a not-for-profit, Toronto (Canada) based International organization to connect, learn and share. Our Vision is to provide the opportunity to leverage technology to have an inclusive future for everyone.  Since 1997, SIP has spearheaded many initiatives, educational programs, and networking events.

 

Some technologies already prepare the way to predict what diseases one will get in their lifetime just by looking at their specific DNA. At some point in the future, the newborns will get DNA report cards which present predictions about the odds of contracting certain diseases, suffering a heart attack, becoming an addict or even about their IQ levels.

 

The specialists discovered that the occurrence of the diseases, traits and behaviours represent the consequence of more than one gene cooperating with others. The genetic studies data gathered for decades show the “polygenic risk scores” how they are called by scientists. They can nowadays use these data where sometimes a huge number of people work on to create these reports.

 

This research offers possibilities on how to use various tests and procedures in the medical sector. For example, clinical tests to research drugs against breast cancer could pick volunteers whose DNA reveals that they are more likely to get this disease and thus the drugs can be developed and produced more effectively just because these persons offer a more adequate environment for medical trials. The results of testing could improve. The predictions offered by the specific DNA do not offer a diagnostic, and therefore can be imperfect. A person revealed by its genes as a candidate to certain diseases may not contract those diseases in their lifetime.

 

Given that these reports can use the data to perform different medical activities more efficiently, they could be considered an important health breakthrough, however, the risks of genetic discrimination run high. For instance, when one person sees in their report card that the likelihood of getting heart disease is 80%, what would be the chances that they consent to this prediction?

 

Nowadays a few organizations develop, monitor and process this data used to create the DNA report cards. The technology is available now and these organizations names are Myriad Genetics, Broad Institute, Helix, UK Biobank, 23andMe.

 

Taken into consideration what DNA reveals, the “polygenic risk scores” also offer data related to a person’s level of intelligence and addiction on substances probability. At present, the DNA reports can extrapolate with 10% accuracy a student IQ scores. While the polygenic scores are improving the question becomes how will this information be used without hurting the student’s performance?

When we get deeper into the human body creation it is appropriate to look at all sides, including bad and good and act ethically.

Author: Cory Popescu

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