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Eur J Hum Genet. 2010 Apr;18(4):485-9. doi: 10.1038/ejhg.2009.209. Epub 2009 Nov 25.

Evaluation of the discriminative accuracy of genomic profiling in the prediction of common complex diseases.

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  • 1Office of Minority Health and health Disparities, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mailstop E-67, 1600 Clifton Road, NE, Atlanta, GA 30333, USA.


Genetic testing for susceptibility to common diseases based on a combination of genetic markers may be needed because the effect size associated with each genetic marker is small. Whether or not a genome profile based on a combination of markers could yield a useful test can be evaluated by assessing the discriminative accuracy. The authors present a simple method to calculate the clinical discriminative accuracy of a genomic profile when the relative risk and genotype frequency of each genotype are known. In addition, the clinical discriminative accuracy of a genetic test is presented for given values of the heritability and prevalence of the disease and for the population-attributable fraction of the combined genetic markers. For given values of relative risk and genotype frequency, the discriminative accuracy increases with increasing heritability but declines with increasing prevalence of the disease. For a given value of population-attributable fraction, the discriminative accuracy increases with increasing relative risks, but declines with increasing genotype frequency. On the basis of population-attributable fraction and estimates of heritability of disease, the number of risk genotypes required to have a reasonable clinical discriminative accuracy is much higher than the genome profiles available at present.

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