Symposium – Seeking Genomic Knowledge: The Case for Clinical Restraint

Wylie Burke, Susan Brown Trinidad, and Ellen Wright Clayton

Volume 64, Issue 6, 1649-1664

Genome sequencing technology provides new and promising tests for clinical practice, including whole genome sequencing, which measures an individual’s complete DNA sequence, and whole exome sequencing, which measures the DNA for all genes coding for proteins. These technologies make it possible to test for multiple genes in a single test, which increases the efficiency of genetic testing. However, they can also produce large amounts of information that cannot be interpreted or is of limited clinical utility. This additional information could be distracting for patients and clinicians, and contribute to unnecessary healthcare costs. The potential for genomic sequencing to improve care will be context-dependent, varying for different patients and clinical settings. This Article argues that a disciplined approach is needed, incorporating research to assess when and how genomic information can improve clinical outcomes, practice guidelines that direct optimal uses of genomic sequencing, and efforts to limit the production of genomic information unrelated to the clinical needs of the patient. Without this approach, genomic testing could add to current uansustainable healthcare costs and prove unaffordable in the long run.

Full Article