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Personal Genome: Rather Boring, Actually

Much of what lurks in the human genome isn't all that scary, writes Michael Smith at MedPage Today. Smith is a participant in the Personal Genome Project Canada, an international incarnation of the Personal Genome Project that started at Harvard University by George Church.

The PGP and its international offshoots aim to sequence hundreds of thousands of individuals and pair it with their phenotypic data and medical records to enable personalized medicine, though they've, all together, sequenced about 450 full genomes, he adds.

Church tells Smith that the project also aims to get at causality — many genomic studies to date have uncovered links between certain gene sequences and disease, and some may be 'innocent bystanders.'

Smith says that he's learned so far that he carries 15 rare variants that have been linked to disease, though he's heterozygous for all of them. Based on a polymorphism on chromosome one that could predispose him to blood clots, he says he'll take baby aspirin before any long flight and will tell his doctor to take it into consideration if he's bedridden after surgery.

He adds that he also carries variants that could be of concern to his son, should he have children, but notes that they could be tested for before conception. "Aside from that, nothing to disturb my sleep," he says of his genome. "And that seems to be the case for most people."