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Well, This Is Awkward

The Walrus magazine's Mark Czarnecki says that "to comprehend genomes is to begin to unlock the mysteries of life." But that, of course, has been tricky. In the meantime, he says, society has found itself "lost on the gene map" — while researchers have not yet nailed down their interpretations of the human genome, direct-to-consumer firms are hawking genetic tests and that offer to "detail your risks for a menu of diseases." All the while, researchers have struggled to understand the ethical, legal, and social implications of genomics.

Now, Czarnecki says, "with whole-genome sequencing providing so much data that is so little understood, making the best ethical choice is more difficult than ever." He goes on to add that "as the demand for whole-genome sequencing grows, so will profits, but the big money in personalized medicine will come from the development of treatments. … A given mutation on a person's genome may not necessarily express as a malignant disease, so identifying the probability of a multigenic disease is extremely challenging."

Overall, Czarnecki says that at present, "the human genome is still a vast catalogue of the unknown and scarcely known," and that "as medical science struggles to apply these new discoveries to society's benefit, human genome research, now unstoppable, continues to evolve."

The Scan

Genetic Risk Factors for Hypertension Can Help Identify Those at Risk for Cardiovascular Disease

Genetically predicted high blood pressure risk is also associated with increased cardiovascular disease risk, a new JAMA Cardiology study says.

Circulating Tumor DNA Linked to Post-Treatment Relapse in Breast Cancer

Post-treatment detection of circulating tumor DNA may identify breast cancer patients who are more likely to relapse, a new JCO Precision Oncology study finds.

Genetics Influence Level of Depression Tied to Trauma Exposure, Study Finds

Researchers examine the interplay of trauma, genetics, and major depressive disorder in JAMA Psychiatry.

UCLA Team Reports Cost-Effective Liquid Biopsy Approach for Cancer Detection

The researchers report in Nature Communications that their liquid biopsy approach has high specificity in detecting all- and early-stage cancers.