Health

Socialized personal genomics?

Gene ExpressionBy Razib KhanFeb 6, 2012 5:07 AM

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Norway to bring cancer-gene tests to the clinic:

Norway is set to become the first country to incorporate genome sequencing into its national health-care system. The Scandinavian nation, which has a population of 4.8 million, will use ‘next-generation’ DNA sequencers to trawl for mutations in tumours that might reveal which cancer treatments would be most effective.

The consensus seems to be that ~2000 the main proponents of human genomics oversold the short-term biomedical yield on this line of inquiry. But one rule of thumb is that the consequences of novel technologies are often misunderstood; overestimated in straightforward ways in the short-term, but underestimated in unexpected ways over the long-term. To get a sense, you can reread some of the science fiction of the 1950s inspired by UNIVAC. These mass pushes for nation-wide human genomics projects have a comprehensible headline intent. But I wonder if the real results are going to be something we can't anticipate. (Via John Hawks)

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