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DNA Testing

This evening I wondered over to the Dana Centre for a talk on DNA Testing. The discussion was focus on the services of companies like 23andMe who will analyse your DNA and give you details of illnesses you are genetically more/less prone to.

It was interesting, even if the debate was a little one-sided. They had one speaker from a company offering these services, but they were on video link from California, so only gave a brief presentation followed by questions and answers and weren't involved in the rest of the discussions.

There was a random man in the audience who tried to claim that genetics wasn't science, which was unusual, but he seemed to be the only one with that view.

In short, I didn't really have any desire to have my DNA tested, other than pure curiosity, before this evening and as there wasn't really a strong argument to suggest I might these views haven't changed.



( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
21st Jan, 2009 03:33 (UTC)
Hm, was the debate regarding wether or not these services should be allowed to exsist? Or wether companies should be allow to captilize on the innovation? Or simply the relevance of them?

I'd be curious as to what my results would be, but I'd never be willing to pay for said information. I don't think there's anything wrong with such practices, as they could likely be a key step in preventative medecine. But it irks me that any company is going to be making a profit on my health.

Hello, by the way!
21st Jan, 2009 10:13 (UTC)
It was mainly about how much weight you could put on the results if you had it done and how much you would be likely to change your lifestyle as a result. There was also an interesting discussion on how receiving results like that might affect people's behaviour.

It's clearly mainly the worried well who would do it and there the sort of people who would be trying to lose weight, stop smoking, etc anyway, so it's debatable how much it would help. It may have a inverse effect, with people resigning themselves to fate if they have a higher chance or being more lax about their health because they have a smaller chance.

Although the companies seem to give scientifically accurate results based on the research in the field, saying that you've got 15 genes which mean you have a greater chance of getting type 1 diabetes (for example), doesn't mean there aren't another 30 they haven't found yet that mean you actually have a smaller chance.

The amount of information it gives you seems to be fairly minimal, e.g. it might tell you you've got a 20% chance of developing a certain condition rather than the average 15%. With such a small change to this probability most people are unlikely to make many changes to their lifestyle as a result.
21st Jan, 2009 23:35 (UTC)

Oh I see what you mean now. It's kinda hard to say whether or not tests like this would be detrimental in the long run. I think as the technology gets better and the it becomes more accessible, it could be used not so much privately, but through the medical system. For example, you'd need your doctors permission to get tested and the results would go directly to him/her. Therefore people aren't getting tested merely based on paranoia. Also the information that you actually get out of it would be filtered by a professional.

But maybe that would defeat the purpose of it? I don't know. But I agree that most people would be overly concerned with thier results and change thier lifestyles unnecessarily. Or conversely, stop taking preventative measures because they think they're in the clear. This is a very tricky issue indeed.

Anyways, I think that this is a good idea if the technology were more accurate and regulated so you don't have to go through a private company to get these tests. That's my biggest problem.
21st Jan, 2009 11:45 (UTC)
My position is different from the majority's - I know I have a genetic condition, and had testing to try to find the specific mutation. After many months of testing, the verdict was, "Well, we think it's here, but we're not sure." This demonstrated to me that the whole area has some considerable way to go.
21st Jan, 2009 13:04 (UTC)
Yes, a long way to go before we reach Gattaca levels of DNA testing
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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