Preventive Genomics Clinics: The Future of Precision Medicine?
What do preventive genomics clinics mean for patients?
Luke Turner | | Longer Read
Personal genetic testing is here to stay – so Bethany Zettler and Renée Pelletier recommend preventive genomics clinics as a way to offer the testing patients want without bypassing the guidance they need to fully understand their results.
Since the turn of the millennium, we have made great progress in understanding how hereditary differences in DNA impact an individual’s risk of issues such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Today, thanks to the recent rise in direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing, it has never been easier to access your own genetic information. It is estimated that, by 2021, 100 million people will have used a DTC genetic test (1), setting the market on track to be worth US$6.36 billion by 2028 (2). But as the number of people who want to discover their own genome increases, so does the need to educate consumers about the implications of their results. This is something that two health systems in Boston are now aiming to address with the introduction of their own preventive gene sequencing clinics.
Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s Preventive Genomics Clinic provides comprehensive genome sequencing, interpretation, and risk reporting to healthy adults and children. “We discovered that 15–20 percent of apparently healthy people have a strong genetic risk factor for disease – and nearly everyone carries recessive traits that could lead to serious disease in children,” says Bethany Zettler, Genetic Counselor and Project Manager. “Preventive genomics is an important milestone in shifting medicine from a reactive, treatment-based model to one where illness can be prevented.” More recently, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) launched their own Preventive Genomics Clinic, which brings together genetic counselors, clinical geneticists, and physicians to offer personalized testing and treatment plans based on genomic interpretation.
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