Friday, June 8, 2012

The Ethics of Genomics

Quick Blog: I wanted to take a departure from the complicated science and assess the progress of genomics as it relates to cancer diagnostics/therapy. If you read the countless blogs from the entire quarter, it is evident that scientists are able to study cancer on a molecular level and essentially map cancer risk based on genome sequencing. As much as this technology will pioneer breakthrough treatments, it also begs the question, "how far is too far?" In an article published online Wednesday, it was announced that the fetal genome can be determined from a maternal blood sample and a paternal saliva sample. In the theme of genomics and the possibility it provides, here is some food for thought:

  • Could genomics potentially dissuade couples from reproducing?
    • If genetic screening becomes universally accessible, many couples may choose to learn of the risks that they may be subjecting their offspring to. 
  • Should there be legal statutes against reproducing if a couple knows that their offspring has a heightened risk of cancer or any other disease?
  • What impact will genetic screening have on abortion legislation?
  • Is genetic sequencing bestowing an extra element of worry or a gift of knowledge?