DNA mapping not for everyone - study

2012-04-03 09:29

kalahari.com

Washington - Gene scans for everyone? Not so fast. New research suggests that for the average person, decoding your own DNA may not turn out to be a really useful crystal ball for future health.

Today, scientists map entire genomes mostly for research, as they study which genetic mutations play a role in different diseases. Or they use it to try to diagnose mystery illnesses that plague families. It is different from getting a genetic test to see if you carry, say, a particular cancer-causing gene.

But as genome mapping gets faster and cheaper, scientists and consumers have wondered about possible broader use: Would finding all the glitches hidden in your DNA predict which diseases you'll face decades later?

Johns Hopkins University developed a model using registries of thousands of identical twins, who despite their shared genes can develop different diseases. They examined 24 ailments, including different types of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer's.

Under best-case scenarios, most people would be told they had a somewhat increased risk of at least one disease, said Dr Bert Vogelstein, a Hopkins cancer geneticist and the study's senior author.

Common diseases

But a negative test for most of the rest of the diseases does not mean you will not get them. It just means that you are at no more risk than the general population.

Those are the findings Vogelstein's team reported in the journal Science Translational Medicine. Why? Cancer, for example, typically does not result from inherited genes but from mutations that can form anytime, Vogelstein said.

Many other common diseases are influenced by lifestyle and environment - so you would still have to eat well, exercise and take the other usual precautions.

The study examined just one possible future use of genome mapping. It does not mean there are not other benefits from the effort.

Make no mistake: This technology does have huge promise for customising care for certain people, especially children with otherwise undiagnosed illnesses, said Dr James Lupski of Baylor College of Medicine, who wasn't involved in study released on Monday.

In 2011, Baylor researchers reported one of the first examples of genome mapping directly benefiting a patient. It found a mutation that pointed to the right treatment for a 14-year-old girl's baffling trouble breathing.

But even if finding a genetic explanation does not lead to treatment, knowing whether it was inherited can help parents decide whether to chance having another baby, Lupski added.

"There are families where this can be transformative," said Lupski. He had his own genome mapped to identify the cause of a rare nerve disorder.

- AP

Read more on:    health  |  research  |  genetics
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

ANCYL: Not voting would be blasphemy

Not voting in the forthcoming elections would be blasphemy, the ANCYL says in a statement commemorating the 50th anniversary of struggle icon Nelson Mandela's Rivonia trial speech.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Curve 8520

Wi-Fi enabled With the BlackBerry Curve 8520 connect to your home...

From R1100.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There may be a break through, either through quiet contemplative time to connect to your deep side or forced on you by...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.