Should Everyone Have Their Whole Genome Sequenced at Birth?

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January 26, 2018

Advances in genomic testing are happening at more andmore of a quicker rate right now. Now 'The Great Genome Sequencing Debate' heldat the Royal Institute of London, which posed the ever controversial question –Should everyone have their whole genome sequenced (WGS) at birth?

First up arguing in favour of the motion was AnnekeLucassen, Professor of Clinical Genetics within Medicine at the University ofSouthampton. Her main proposal was that a genome result shouldn’t be regardedas a single result, and instead should be a “resource that is opened or createdat birth which is accessed at different times for different reasons, ratherthan accessed all at once.”In addition to this, she expressed a need for moreappropriate safeguarding and a better understanding of what genetics can and cannothelp us with, so that routine gene sequencing at birth can help both healthcareand research in a way that’s currently not possible.

Next up,arguing against the motion was Kat Arney, an award-winning science writer, broadcaster and author.She was calling for more research, so that we are able to start unpacking whatit is that we still don't know about what exists between genes, and why itmakes us how we are.As a result, she believes that we just don’t know enough tobe carrying out WGS at birth. "Most of the traits we have are not just onegene, and therefore not one broken gene is one disease,” she explained. “Mostof your genome isn’t even genes, less than 2% of DNA is actual genes, and restis non-coding DNA."

For Research Use Only. Not for use in diagnostic procedures.

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