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The Decision

In some instances, such as when someone has an unknown genetic disease, sequencing the genome makes sense to get to the cause of the disease, the Wall Street Journal says, but it adds: What about when people are healthy? Stanford University's Atul Butte and Robert Green from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School take up the debate.

Butte writes that healthy people should have their genomes sequenced. He lists four main reasons to do so: to recognize disease susceptibility and to try to mitigate it, for family planning purposes, to aid determine best drugs should you fall ill, and to diagnose unidentified illnesses. "But for many people, that genome sequence may provide the crucial first step to move from 'knowing thyself' to "helping thyself,' he writes.

Green, however, argues against sequencing for healthy people, saying that there are still a number of challenges to overcome before genome sequencing can safely be expand to a healthy population. Right now, he says, it could do more harm than good as researchers and clinicians don't yet know how to interpret results in the context of a healthy person. "Known mutations may or may not carry the same risk in the absence of family history," he says. "If a healthy person without a family history has a well-recognized heart-rhythm mutation, should we send them home with reassurance or surgically implant a pacemaker?"

The Scan

Positive Framing of Genetic Studies Can Spark Mistrust Among Underrepresented Groups

Researchers in Human Genetics and Genomics Advances report that how researchers describe genomic studies may alienate potential participants.

Small Study of Gene Editing to Treat Sickle Cell Disease

In a Novartis-sponsored study in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that a CRISPR-Cas9-based treatment targeting promoters of genes encoding fetal hemoglobin could reduce disease symptoms.

Gut Microbiome Changes Appear in Infants Before They Develop Eczema, Study Finds

Researchers report in mSystems that infants experienced an enrichment in Clostridium sensu stricto 1 and Finegoldia and a depletion of Bacteroides before developing eczema.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia Treatment Specificity Enhanced With Stem Cell Editing

A study in Nature suggests epitope editing in donor stem cells prior to bone marrow transplants can stave off toxicity when targeting acute myeloid leukemia with immunotherapy.