September 19th, 2011
“Doc, I Got My Whole Genome Scanned – Now What?”
When Walmart announced that it would stock personal genetic kits, the FDA balked and Walmart held off. But that doesn’t mean patients can’t still order a personal whole genome scan online.
So what do you do if and when your patient shows you a commercially produced report of a personal whole genome scan? Do you treat the results as part of the medical record and manage accordingly? Or do you cite recently reported quality control problems and lack of formal FDA regulation? Or do you refer the patient to a genetic counselor?
With this week’s issue of Nature reporting another 16 new loci for hypertension, the list of genotypes associated with a multitude of phenotypes – from height to Alzheimer’s disease – continues to burgeon. Even though genetic risk scores only modestly predict common complex diseases (e.g. median C statistics of 0.55-0.60 for coronary heart disease), this fact is often lost on the lay media and, in turn, the average public consumer.
So if your next patient showed up in clinic with a genome scan report in hand, what would be your approach?