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Public Good Genomics

Genomics is moving beyond single-gene disorders into the realm of infectious and non-infectious diseases to improve public health, writes Jane Parry at The Guardian Professional. "Genomics is absolutely changing the way we deal with public health issues and as the technology involves gets a lot cheaper, there will be a massive shift in diagnostics towards molecular technology," Hilary Burton, the director of PHG Foundation, tells Parry.

One disease where genomics has made headway, Parry adds, is in type 2 diabetes. Researchers are searching for genetic markers for the disease that are applicable to different ethnic populations. Further, a team in Hong Kong has uncovered four markers associated with increased risk of renal disease in diabetes patients, and it is now developing a panel to stratify diabetes patients based on the risk markers they have, she writes.

Parry notes, though, that public health genomic efforts also raise ethical questions, such as what to do with incidental findings and confidentiality concerns as well as how to implement it in low-income countries.