Genetic Testing – What's In It For Me?
Understanding genetics is fairly simple and straightforward. But how to implement the data into practice – that’s where in-depth understanding steps in. One can find out their whole genome for about 1,000 € – but what do you do with all that information? The data itself does not benefit an ordinary consumer and it does not affect one’s daily behavior. I would go as far as claiming, that knowing one’s full genome is not even nice-to-know information without having the understanding of how to utilize it.
These days consumers are offered several different genetic tests: There are the ones detecting hereditary diseases, for those who are eager to know their family tree and a test to determine medicine suitability. Why not check all of the above with one single test? It is the same DNA being sampled, right? Same DNA, yes, yet it is not as straightforward as that. Take pharmacogenetics for example. GeneAccount Service determines the pharmacogenetic profile for about 20 genes that are significant for how medicine is metabolized in one’s system. Those genes are compared to over 120 common drugs which include pharmacogenetic variation.
We are all unique when it comes to genetics and the way medicine washes out from our system is based on genetics – hence that is also unique. Makes sense, right? A vast amount of people are prescribed medicine daily and unique variants should be taken into consideration. Wrong dosages or unsuitable drugs can cause severe side effects or inefficacy of medication.
”Side effects are fairly common in drug usage. They have a tendency of lowering one’s quality of life and are often a sign, that particular medication is not suitable for that particular patient. Unfortunately, it is a common practice that such side effects are being treated with yet another medication hence the side effects tend to pile up.” Jari Forsström, PhD, Internal Medicine.
“Side effects are being treated with yet another medication hence the side effects tend to pile up.”
To isolate all the required ”snips” (the small variations of DNA structure) is not simple at all and a lot of academic research and reliable data is needed before reliable conclusions can be drawn. Genetic tests are often a result of intense and hard labor. The example above will determine the suitability of the genes relevant to pharmacogenetics. Sure, the same sample could be used to determine the whole genome, all known genes should be isolated, analyzed and then draw conclusions of them regarding each subsector – now the simplicity is far away.
Knowing all this, I dare to claim that it is utmost practical to have genetic tests for each particular purpose.
Finland has very high-level knowledge and academic research about genes and how to utilize them in health care. We are also very proud that soon there will be a national Genome Center that will enhance the genetic data being used at all levels of health care. It is a fact that this will be beneficial to all: to the citizens as well as the nation.