When Gattaca was released in 1997, it was fantastical sci-fi fiction or - at best - a future that seemed beyond our lifetime. Twenty years later genome sequencing might not allow us to design individuals, but it does give us unprecedented understanding of our genetic profile. It goes a step beyond genetic testing to understand the whole cells - their structure, sequence and impact - that determine so much of who we are and, increasingly, how we live our lives.
This technology is becoming more available at more accessible price points, raising questions around the management of this data - how it impacts individuals and society, the value of the insights it provides, and at what cost.
What genome sequencing is, and how it differs from genetic tests
How genome sequencing is already being used in research and health care, and how this is translating in clinical practice
The information that can be understood from profiles and how it can be used to alter the health and lifestyles of individuals
The implications of this technology for the privacy of individuals, including the burden of disclosure
How this technology impacts the future of health and life insurance
Dr Ingrid Winship, Executive Director Research, Melbourne Health
Paul Beaver (PhD), Co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer, FitGenes
Alex Tighe, Commercial Lawyer, Holding Redlich
Genomics studies your complete DNA – or the big picture, as opposed to genetics which studies individual genes
Genomics research is challenging the one-size-fits-all approach to medical conditions and being translated into personalised health plans that guide diet and lifestyle so you might prevent diseases or conditions from manifesting
Genome sequencing and profiling seeks to identify the driver that may lead to future conditions or diseases
Profiling or sequencing should be undertaken in conjunction with the guidance of health practitioners
Be aware of the burden of disclosure. Life insurers can currently require you to disclose data from any genetic profile or test you’ve undertaken.
In future we may see health insurers playing a role in providing testing in order to offer preventative treatments to members that reduce their risk profile
If considering undergoing sequencing or profiling, consult your GP or Melbourne Genomics Health Alliance.
Beware online overseas profile providers of direct-to-consumer testing which may not provide context or counselling along with the data
Who you are and how you determine yourself is much more than the sum of your genes
Your genes aren’t your destiny. These tests provide knowledge, and knowledge is both power and a reason for optimism
The full report is available for download by members or by contacting us directly.