Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Recreational Genomics: Will That Be A Paternity Or Cancer Test Today?

Date:
February 19, 2009
Source:
University of Montreal
Summary:
Commercial genetic tests, which can verify risks of cancer risks to paternity, have become commonplace in the Western societies. Yet these tests provide little information and raise a lot more questions, according ton one bioethics expert.

Commercial genetic tests, which can verify risks of cancer risks to paternity, have become commonplace in the Western societies. Yet these tests provide little information and raise a lot more questions, says Bryn Williams-Jones, a professor at the Université de Montréal Department of Social and Preventive Medicine and director of bioethics programs.

“For $200 to $300, a private company can provide consumers with a genetic profile or a risk assessment for any given disease,” explains Williams-Jones.

“At that price, a person might as well consult their horoscope.”

Although billions of dollars have been invested in human genetics in the last three decades, very few genetic diseases can be identified from a simple organic sample (inner cheek cells, a hair, a drop of blood, etc). Genes that cause breast and ovary cancers, Huntington disease, tyrosinemia, family cholesterol and other diseases can be identified after a chromosomal analysis. “But for cardiovascular disease and the majority of cancers, the information taken from our cells is insufficient,” cautions Williams-Jones.

Williams-Jones has labeled some genetic testing companies as recreational genomics: “One company offers to evaluate the potential risk of 20 or so hereditary diseases. This is completely unreasonable. Given what some people may do with this information, I find these tests a great concern.”

In the 1970s, the BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 genes were discovered, which helped reliably predict the odds of suffering from cancer for people at risk. The company that owns the rights to the discovery, Myriad Genetics, owned the patent on those tests and could have forced hospitals or diagnostic centers to pay royalties.

But that’s not how it happened. “In Canada, these tests are done without paying royalties. And the company never dared attack the Canadian government for doing so,” says Williams-Jones. 

It was society’s first victory in the commercial war on the genetics market, Williams-Jones explains, and insurance companies have since expressed little interest in the industry. “It’s not sufficiently reliable,” he says.

Still, the industry is making serious inroads with paternity testing. According to Williams-Jones up to 15 percent of people have doubts about the identity of their father. Paternity tests are 99.9 percent reliable and available everywhere from the Internet to the corner pharmacy.

Another ethical problem is the identification of sperm donors. Some 30 years after the birth of Louise Brown, the first test-tube baby, many people are asking to ID the donor of their biological fathers. In the first fertility clinics, donors had to remain anonymous. But in 2007, in Britain, the right to know one’s biological father surpassed the right of the donor’s anonymity. The result is that sperm donations are freefalling.

Professor William-Jones, who was recruited to the Université de Montréal in 2005, says he will continue to examine new bioethical frontiers as they emerge. “I collaborate with humanists, social scientists and applied scientists in order to deconstruct the complexity of new technologies and analyze the embedded ethical, social, and political values,” he says.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Montreal. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Montreal. "Recreational Genomics: Will That Be A Paternity Or Cancer Test Today?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 February 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090218200316.htm>.
University of Montreal. (2009, February 19). Recreational Genomics: Will That Be A Paternity Or Cancer Test Today?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090218200316.htm
University of Montreal. "Recreational Genomics: Will That Be A Paternity Or Cancer Test Today?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090218200316.htm (accessed April 25, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, April 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) — A disease that has killed more than six million cave-dwelling bats in the United States is on the move and wildlife biologists are worried. White Nose Syndrome, discovered in New York in 2006, has now spread to 25 states. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Companies Ramp Up Wellness to Lower Health Costs

Companies Ramp Up Wellness to Lower Health Costs

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) — That little voice telling you to exercise, get in shape and get healthy is probably coming from your boss. More companies are beefing up wellness programs to try and cut down their health care costs. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Blood From World's Oldest Woman Suggests Life Limit

Blood From World's Oldest Woman Suggests Life Limit

Newsy (Apr. 24, 2014) — Scientists say for the extremely elderly, their stem cells might reach a state of exhaustion. This could limit one's life span. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
FDA Wants To Ban Sales Of E-Cigarettes To Minors

FDA Wants To Ban Sales Of E-Cigarettes To Minors

Newsy (Apr. 24, 2014) — The Food and Drug Administration wants to crack down on the use of e-cigarettes, banning the sale of the product to minors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins