Genome Mapping – The Future is Here!

genome mapping woman filling microtube imageNow, you can get your genome mapped for under $1000. Not long ago, mapping your genetic code was prohibitive, costing 5 or even 10,000 dollars – but soon it will be available to everyone.

So, what are the pros and cons? Medical doctors use information from the genome to understand the nature of a disease, and hopefully design more effective treatments. Screening for a genetic mutation linked to breast cancer has compelled many women, including Angelina Jolie, to get preventative mastectomies before they are diagnosed with cancer.

Learning that you have a genetic predisposition to heart disease may prompt you to take diet and exercise more seriously, and that’s probably a good thing.

But what about knowing you have an untreatable, unpreventable condition that will likely kill you before you’re 50?

Genome mapping brings up privacy and discrimination issues that are very real. Some insurance companies are already asking for genome mapping as a prerequisite to applying for life insurance.

Screening babies for hundreds or thousands of genetic conditions could open a can of worms for parents who will then have to figure out how to protect their child from the so-called inevitable.

Then, there is the accuracy issue: what if there is a mistake made in the mapping? There is just a mountain of issues here that will soon be real choices for families to make in a living room near you.

Take a look at the results of a recent NPR survey asking folks if they would get their genome mapped if they could afford it:

NPR Survey:

Would you have your genome sequenced if you could afford it?

Yes, I would.81.45% (5,398 Clicks)
I’m undecided.9.9% (656 Clicks)
No, I wouldn’t.9% (573 Clicks)

Total: 6,627

It looks like, regardless of the pros and cons, genome mapping is here to stay.

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  • Tina Huston

    A can of worms, indeed. Can they test people’s gnome before eating GMO food and then test again over different time frames to see if they were effected on a cellular and/or genetic level? And what about health insurance companies? Will the day come when they require gnome testing to determine your premium? Will test results go to government “death” panels to determine whether or not you will get treatment? I miss the good old days when we didn’t have technology and our lives were quiet, simple, and happy.

  • Rich Blumenthal

    This article has overlooked the science of epigenetics, or the “switches” that activate good genes and turn off bad genes. It’s all about diet, mood, exercise, and lifestyle factors which affect hormone production, which in turn, affect DNA. The most effective hormone appears to be vitamin D, which is believed to make positive changes to about 10% of the human genome. This could explain the phenomenal benefits found in hundreds of clinical trials involving vitamin D. The take home message is whether or not you choose to get a genetic test, it seems prudent to elevate your vitamin D blood level to 60-70 ng/mL based on the 25(OH)D blood test. For mot people, this means supplementing with 5000 IU of vitamin D3 a day. It’s safe, extremely inexpensive, there’s no downside, yet the benefits are enormous.