The results and analysis of our latest poll.

Will the genome ever be the primary reference point for physicians?

66.7% Yes

33.3% No

Interesting result here – clearly the majority view is that the genome will become a significant tool in the doctor’s arsenal in the future. But this isn’t a foregone confusion, with a significant proportion of nay sayers in there. 

There’s little question that genetics and genomics are transforming the medical landscape, changing how we understand disease and how we treat it. The White House is seeking sector consultation on personalised medicine in action, and last month American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics revised their Scope of Practice to better define the role of a medical geneticist. But will we reach a point in the future where a visit to the doctor begins with a blood test and a sequenced genome?

In the interim this is very likely to become the case for cancer patients. Genetic tests can already show which chemotherapy treatments will work best for a particular patient with a particular cancer. And certainly for conditions with a genetic basis, or where certain genes confer increased susceptibility, making diagnoses and even deciding a treatment on the basis of a genome sequence makes perfect sense. In the UK we have already seen how advances in genetic diagnosis have changed how doctors can treat type I diabetes in children

It’s harder to predict a role for the genome when treating infections. A trip to the doctor with tonsillitis calls for a prescription for antibiotics rather than a rummage through your genome. Where genomic information might prove useful in this instance is in predicting adverse drug reactions. Over the last 30 years we have come to understand genetic risk factors for adverse drug reactions, and it is not inconceivable that in the future physicians might screen a patient for such factors before making a prescription.

What does the future of medicine look like to you?

This month our poll is all about big genomic data. Get involved in the discussion here!

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