I’m bored… wanna map genes?

Title: Human Genetics Is Now A Viable Hobby – 23andMe Cuts Its Price To $399
Author: Aaron Rowe

Summary:

Genomics company, 23andMe, has lowered its on price on their genome scan kit, allowing more people to participate in advanced research. Thanks to advances in microarray chip technology, people can learn about their personal genetic makeup and theoretically predict what medications might have ill effects on their body. Further advances in genome scans will allow for pharmacogenetics, or the study of a drug’s effect on specific genes, to expand.

History and Progression:
The previous genome scan available was for sale at $999, limiting those who could learn about their health. The price of chips has dramatically decreased while their capabilities are exponentially increasing. Despite the power of these chips, people question their accuracy.

Advancement:
The ability to determine if a particular drug is safe for your body composition is extremely important in the avoidance of dangerous and potentially fatal side effects. The mapping of genes will allow for a better understanding of the body’s makeup, making it possible to predict and prepare for any genetic disorders. Also, a centralized database will allow for massive amounts of data mining and knowledge acquisition.

Ethical Practice:
The strong possibility exists that we could gain a better understanding of how genes work using these tests. Once we understand what genes do, we could potentially learn to alter genes to prevent diseases and afflictions or even change sex characteristics. This could be comparable to using embryonic stem cells to alter body compositions, which ethically is a current hot topic for debate.

Privacy:
In order to map pharmacogenetic markers, a customer database must collect the genome kit test results. This might be problematic because it could be construed as an invasion of privacy. This could be avoided by offered a choice to participate in the study.

Positive Benefits:
Mankind would gain a better understanding of its genetic makeup and hopefully learn to better its existence.

Negative Effects:
Privacy of personal genetic makeup could become a concern, as well as use of genetic understanding to alter genes of unborn children without their say in the matter.

Political Beliefs:
As with stem cell research, republicans and conservatives will question the ethical use of the gained knowledge from these genome kits. I am awaiting a congressional regulation on genome mapping and its storage. I personally think there should be a regulation on the use of information, not the act of mapping itself.

Religious Beliefs:
It can be argued that a god had created people a certain way, not for us to understand or question. We should respect our makeup and leave it be. I believe that the more we know about our makeup, the better quality we can live our lives.