What Use Is Genetic Testing?

by Malc on August 12, 2011

Cost of Genome Sequencing Plunges

Cost of Genome Sequencing Plunges (dullhunk, Flickr)

Genetic testing – sequencing the genome – will be used more and more for individuals – and health services – as the price comes down. The cost is now around $10,000, down from $100,000 only two years ago.  In a very few years the cost will be hundreds of dollars.

But what will we be able to use genetic testing for? Here are three areas.

Cancer

Knowing the genetic cause of a person’s cancer will become more and crucial to treatment. Already, research is being put into ‘smart drugs’ which work only when certain genetic mutations are present. This will make cancer treatment much more focused.

Infectious Diseases

Knowing the exact genome of a bacterium – such as MRSA – will enable treatment and prevention to be much more targeted. The sources of infections will be easier to find and deal with: and treatments will be more readily available, and more accurate.

Screening

Each year, hundreds of people die suddenly and prematurely from a variety of ailments including sudden heart attacks. Genetic screening will be able to identify those at risk, and preventive measures – of lifestyle and, perhaps, drugs – recommended.

In, five years, certainly, these measures will become commonplace in the Western world, as the cost of genetic testing continues to fall rapidly. More applications will be found, no doubt, for the insights genetic screening provides.

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