The field of genomics is booming as doctors use genetic testing to help their patients and consumers look for customized information regarding the type of diet they should eat and to learn facts about their ancestry. Entrepreneurs like Jim Plante have founded companies such as Pathway Genomics and Klotho Therapeutics, both of which focus on the use of genetics for delaying and even eradicating certain serious diseases. Continuing advances in biotechnology show great promise.
Learning About Risk
Genetic testing brings insight to people who want to know about their risk for medical conditions that they know run in their families. By learning whether they carry a specific marker for a disease, they can make intelligent decisions about how to proceed. Physicians generally feel it’s important for these patients to learn about test results in consultation with medical doctors and genetic counselors. That way, the results are explained thoroughly and patients do not have big misconceptions about what those results mean.
Employee Screening as a Benefit
Some employers have begun offering genetic testing for disease screening as a benefit to their workers. Experts advise caution about this kind of testing becoming widespread as a direct service to individuals. In some cases, there is nothing to be done if a person is at higher risk of an illness because of a genetic marker. Alzheimer’s disease is an example. Many people at genetic risk for Alzheimer’s never have any symptoms even if they live well into their elderly years.
Learning about one’s genes can offer reasons for all sorts of problems people experience. A person’s genetic structure can shed light on why ibuprofen has never been very effective for headaches or why staying up late comes more naturally than getting up at dawn. It can explain why one woman deals with terrible morning sickness during pregnancy while another breezes through those months with no nausea at all.
As genetic testing becomes more common, the ability to make medicine even more customized and precise is a distinct probability. Patients who have already been diagnosed with certain conditions may be able to learn which types of treatments would be most effective, based on their DNA.