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ADVANCE Discourse: Lab

Would You Get YOUR Genome Sequenced?

Published March 28, 2012 12:16 PM by Valerie Newitt

If you could have your genome sequenced and unlock all of the secrets your DNA holds, would you?

I asked that question of Dr. Robert Daber, technical director of Clinical Genomics at the Center for Personalized Diagnostics, and Dr. Jennifer Morrissette, scientific director of the Cytogenics Lab and director of the Center for Personalized Diagnostics, at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

Dr. Morrissette was first to say, "I don't think I'd want  my whole genome sequenced because you'd end up finding a bunch of things that you wouldn't fully understand; you would have to constantly go back and reanalyze. But if I could learn only directly actionable things, that would be different. To know carrier status, cancer susceptibility for which you could be screened, or drug metabolism - that would make sense."

Dr. Daber said he, too, would forgo personal genome sequencing, but admitted he'd love to see his children's DNA sequenced, knowing the powerful potential to avoid future health problems. After all, "DNA is our most intimate profile."

My interest piqued, I started poking around the web for places to get my own DNA sequenced. I found out that for about $100, I could exchange a tube of my spit for a heap of information about myself - my geographical heritage, certain disease risk factors, and even who some of my as-yet-undiscovered cousins might be.

So how about you? Would you do it, learning the good with the bad?  Would you want to know if you are a prime candidate for Alzheimer's, for example? If so, you better hurry. The FDA appears to be moving toward regulation of personal-use DNA testing and if that happens, a relatively inexpensive window of opportunity could close.

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