Oct 7, 2019

Doctors struggle with the ethics of genetic testing for patients

DNA sequencing is producing vast amounts of data, but researchers and doctors often don't know what it means or what can be done about the information it reveals, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Why it matters: Providers and scientists are grappling with how much information to give patients who have had their genes scanned.

  • Some argue that it's not providers' place to decide to withhold patient information.
  • On the other hand, such information can cause anxiety when it's not "medically actionable," or it can lead patients to get unnecessary or harmful care.

The big picture: Many clinics and studies give patients only a few dozen results that reveal genetic causes for conditions that are treatable.

  • The Mayo Clinic, for example, will look for gene variants that cause heart disease or breast cancer and give those results to patients. But it won't look at variants for early-onset Alzheimer's or Lou Gehrig's diseases.

What we're watching: More providers and research projects are performing broad genetic scans, often for studies or drug development. The question of what to do with the data is only going to become more prominent.

Go deeper: Genetic testing firms share your DNA data more than you think

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AI reshapes how doctors treat breast care patients

An algorithm is helping researchers map the medical history of breast cancer patients so they can better predict, treat and maybe even prevent it, The New York Times reports.

The big picture: This database covers more than 100,000 patients over 30 years, from Massachusetts General hospital. That's a lot more data than oncologists can get from clinical trials, the Times notes.

Go deeperArrowOct 25, 2019

Genetic testing may prevent ER visits for kids with Type I diabetes

Researchers at the University of Virginia are developing genetic testing to keep children with undiagnosed Type I diabetes out of emergency rooms, NPR reports.

Why it matters: Almost 50% of all children who develop Type 1 diabetes end up hospitalized in a coma because they didn't know they had the autoimmune disease, per the report.

Go deeperArrowOct 15, 2019

Podcast: Elizabeth Warren's health care revolution

Elizabeth Warren's Medicare for All proposal would end health care as any American has ever known it, for both providers and patients.

Go deeper: Warren's dream health care world