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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

DNA Testing: What Should Geneticists Do When They Stumble Upon Family Secrets?

What Should Geneticists Do When They Find Out Family Secrets?

Joseph Millum | December 18, 2015

Sequencing the first human genome took more than a decade and cost billions of dollars. Nowadays, an individual’s genome can be sequenced in days for as little as a thousand dollars. The plummeting cost of genomic testing has made its use in medical research routine. Genetic information is collected in studies of cancer, HIV, diabetes, schizophrenia and pretty much any disease you can think of. Yet in the course of sequencing the genomes, researchers investigating diseases that can run in families sometimes discover that parents and children who thought they were genetically related are not. Such findings usually manifest as misattributed paternity resulting from infidelity, but they can also arise when children don’t know they’re adopted, or even because of a mix-up at the IVF clinic.

In the fifty years since DNA was discovered, we have seen extraordinary advances. For example, genetic testing has rapidly improved the diagnosis and treatment of diseases such as Huntington's, cystic fibrosis, breast cancer, and Alzheimer's. But with this new knowledge comes difficult decisions for countless people, who wrestle with fear about whether to get tested, and if so, what to do with the results. Source:

<more at; related links: (Should researchers tell their subjects if the parents who raised them are not biological kin? December 18, 2015) and (Am I My Genes?)>

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