The Benefits and Burdens of Genetic Testing

New podcast and forums at World Science: The Benefits and Burdens of Genetic Testing:

Listen to a story by reporter Marina Giovannelli, followed by our interview with Mayana Zatz.

Download MP3

Our guest in the Science Forum is geneticist and genetic counselor Mayana Zatz. She directs the Human Genome Research Center at the University of Sao Paolo.

Zatz has been working with patients with inherited disorders for nearly two decades. When it comes to genetic testing, Zatz advocates caution. Tests for some inherited disorders have helped people decide whether or not to have children. But in most cases, Zatz says genetic testing raises complex psychological and ethical issues:

* Should children be tested for late-onset disorders like Huntington's disease and cerebellar ataxia? Doing so could lead to a life of dread, as they wait for a disease for which there is no cure.
* Interpreting the results from a genetic test can be difficult, especially for complex diseases like cancer or Alzheimer's which are triggered by multiple factors, not just genetics.

Come join the conversation with Mayana Zatz. She's taking your comments and questions through July 13th.

* Have you had your genes read? How did the results change your life?
* Should companies offering such tests be regulated?
* What kinds of medical benefits can we expect from genomics research in the coming years?

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This is true Coturnix. It would really suck to know you were going to get a disease and just dread it if you also knew there was no cure. On the other hand, would this give drug companies the market research they need to know if enough people are going to have a certain disease to develop a treatment for it? there are so many angles to approach the discussion with.