Making a Difference

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Genetic Decisions, Are we Ready?

How do you feel when the auto mechaninc says, “Your CV joints are shot and while your at it we might as well put in a new axle.” Whether you know the difference between a contant velocity joint and a vente latte it is often impossible to know if the advice you are receiving is true and correct. in the end you simply need to trust your mechanic. Now fast forward to a meeting with your genetic counselor at BioGenetica (I made that up), the company that just completed a mapping of your genome and is telling you what to expect. should you have an elective Mastectomy to avoid breast cancer? Should your husband have his prostate removed? Now that you are told that there is a 20% chance your unborn child could be autistic do you adopt? You better make sure you understand the economic model for this genetic counselor.

We are moving into unknown territory. First of all not all genetic mapping is 100% accurate. Secondly we can not be sure our medical estimates on predicted diseases are not just educated guestimates. This would be a wonderful time to be a medical ethicist. Don’t get me wrong, I am extremely sanguine about the prospects for genetics, gene replacement therapy and genetic counseling. I just have concerns that people do not fully appreciate that this is new science and a personal life decision has much greater impact than purchasing new CV joints.

See “The worlds Most Annotated Man”


Written by Jim McNiel

June 23, 2009 at 5:52 pm

Posted in life, Science

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