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Am J Ther. 2014 Nov-Dec;21(6):548-53. doi: 10.1097/MJT.0b013e3182583bd1.

Genomic medicine: health care issues and the unresolved ethical and social dilemmas.

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1Visiting Professorship Program, University of Port Harcourt, Port Harcourt, River State, Nigeria; and 2Department of Medicine, University of Illinois College of Medicine, Chicago, IL.


Our perception of the mechanism by which single genes can cause disease is evolving. This has led to the understanding of the pathophysiological basis of common diseases. Genomic Medicine continues to contribute to the understanding of the molecular basis of disease. Medicine has strived to achieve the goal of tailoring interventions to individual variations in risk and treatment response and advances in medical genomics will facilitate this process. Relevant to present-day practice is the use of genomic information to classify individuals according to disease susceptibility or expected responsiveness to a pharmacologic treatment and to provide targeted interventions. By investigating the genetic profile of individuals, medical professionals are able to select patients and use the information obtained to plan out a course of treatment that is much more in step with the way their body works. However, society is concerned about the effect genetic knowledge will have on ethnic or racial groups. Currently, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act prohibits discrimination based on genetics. There is a need to increase the understanding of the social and ethical challenges that genomics information may pose to clinicians and scientists. This review is not meant to be exhaustive; rather, clinically relevant examples are used to illustrate how genomic medicine can facilitate the provision of molecular diagnostic methods that improve drug therapy. Finally, the rapid pace of change in genomics may likely make my conclusions today obsolete tomorrow.

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