Views & Reviews Review of the Week

Genetic testing: picking up the pieces

BMJ 2008; 337 doi: (Published 15 October 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a2103
  1. Fred Kavalier, GP and primary care geneticist
  1. kavalier{at}

    A new book mixing journalism and personal experience explores the dilemmas of genetic testing, finds Fred Kavalier

    Some enthusiasts in the world of molecular genetics still believe that the human genome project and all its associated spin offs will soon deliver a new understanding of health, disease, and even the future. But as the complexity of the genome reveals itself it is now obvious that being able to read the DNA code of the genome is only a small first step along a very long road.

    We can see evidence of this increasing scepticism in the consumer marketplace. In the United Kingdom a number of “genetic medicine” enterprises have set themselves up with great fanfare, only to disappear quietly when the customers failed to come through the front door. For most of us, predictions about health and disease that are based on genetic tests are of no value—they don’t tell us anything that allows us either to predict the future or to alter its course.

    For a few people, however, genetic testing is a life changing experience. Masha …

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