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Look into the (Possible) Future

It's mostly been people who are ill who've undergone sequencing of their full genomes, but in a blog post at the Huffington Post, Brigham and Women's Hospital's Robert Green wonders if that's about to change.

While he notes that personal genome sequencing hasn't yet become an integral part of medical care, Green says that's the vision that many like him have of the future of medicine. "We imagine that personal genome sequencing could play a central role in bringing about a more personalized and participatory form of medicine — including a health care system where patients have more knowledge of their own risks and diagnoses and are empowered to act upon that information," he writes. Further, he sees this as occurring before patients become ill.

But such "predispositional personal genome sequencing," as Green calls is, is being held back by both the expense of sequencing — as well as insurance coverage of that cost — and by worries about how people might react to their results.

The bigger question for Green, though, is whether predispositional personal genome sequencing will have the utility it's assumed to have. "Will learning genetic risk information save lives, or could it possibly produce more harm than good?" he asks.