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Medical News and Perspectives
July 20, 2005

Genetic Information: How Much Can Patients Handle?

JAMA. 2005;294(3):295-296. doi:10.1001/jama.294.3.295

Genome-wide scans for disease-causing genes have been touted by some proponents as the future of medicine. But will the vast and potentially ambiguous data they provide be too much for patients and their physicians to handle?

To begin to answer this and other questions about how to translate genomics into clinical practice, the National Human Genome Research Institute is embarking on a pilot study. The effort, which is still in the planning stages, will involve enlisting healthy adult volunteers and sequencing a panel of 100 to 300 genes that have been associated with various disease phenotypes. Participants will also undergo a physical examination and a battery of tests. The collected information will be used to inform the individuals about potential genetic risk factors in their genome.

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