Protections Needed in Genetic Testing, Experts Say

Genetic tests pointing the way to personalized medical care are one of the most prominent results of genetic sequencing research. But genetics policy experts writing in the journal Science have voiced concern over the lack of basic protections to ensure the validity of genetic tests before they go to market.

"Marketing unproven tests to an unsuspecting public could undermine the very future of personalized medicine," says Kathy Hudson, director of the Genetics and Public Policy Center at Johns Hopkins University and one of the authors of the report.

Some companies have begun to offer at-home genetic tests that would provide the ability to scan a patient's entire genome, looking for potential trouble spots.

"Health professionals are now faced with the prospect of their patients coming to the office, a DNA profile in hand, asking for preventative management tailored to their specific disease risks," writes Ken Offit, chief of the Clinical Genetics Service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Offit and Hudson discuss what is needed to make genetic testing safe and dependable.

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