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Press Releases

July 15, 2013

 

Realizing the True Promise of Genomic Medicine

In his paper, We Screen Newborns, Don’t We: Realizing the Promise of Public Health Genomics, James P Evans, MD, PHD discusses the limits of genetics in the effort to harness common diseases within the greater population.

How would you change your lifestyle if you were aware of a predisposition in your genes toward certain types of cancer or other degenerative diseases? Twenty years ago a question like this would have been far-fetched for most people. Now, more and more people are finding out through genetic testing which diseases will pose a future threat to their health. With this information, there may be options for mitigating the risk.

The methods for discovery are changing as technologies advance. What was once thought to be the promise of genetics has stalled because assessing the risk for disease is no longer enough to result in population health improvement. DNA sequencing has surpassed the potential of genetics because it allows doctors to understand not only which individuals are predisposed to certain diseases but how their individual genetic mutations will affect the disease path and potential treatment options.  

In his paper, We Screen Newborns, Don’t We: Realizing the Promise of Public Health Genomics, James P Evans, MD, PHD discusses the limits of genetics in the effort to harness common diseases within the greater population. “First and foremost, genetics constitutes a relatively small etiologic component of common diseases, a fact that places an inherent ceiling on the utility of genetic risk assessment. Although the possibility exists that more of the risk for common diseases may be explained by gene–exposure interactions, this hypothesis has yet to be realized. Moreover, common diseases are . . . well, common. Thus, the absolute risk for any individual to develop these diseases will remain substantial regardless of our ability to tweak an individual’s relative risk by genetic analysis.” The paper goes on to explain that genomic sequencing technologies are moving further forward toward the goal of improving public health.”

In a presentation, at the 5th Annual Personalized Medicine Conference, Dr. Evans will explore the clinical applications of massively parallel sequencing that appear most promising. He will also explore the use of this new tool in the public health setting.

The 5th Annual Personalized Medicine Conference will delve into the emerging practice of Personalized Medicine by focusing on the themes of Clinical Implementation, Genomic data and new stakeholders. The event is an official satellite event of the American Society of Human Genetics Annual Meeting. It will take place on October 21 – 22, 2013 in Boston, MA at the Westin Boston Waterfront. For more information visit: www.personalized-medicine-conference.com

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