Whole genome sequencing involves the analysis of all three billion pairs of letters in an individual's DNA and has been hailed as a technology that will usher in a new era of predicting and preventing disease. However, the use of genome sequencing in healthy individuals is controversial because no one fully understands how many patients carry variants that put them at risk for rare genetic conditions and how they, and their doctors, will respond to learning about these risks. In a new paper published online on June 26, 2017 in the Annals of Internal Medicine by investigators at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, along with collaborators at Baylor College of Medicine, report the results of the 4-year, NIH-funded MedSeq Project, the first-ever randomized trial conducted to examine the impact of whole genome sequencing in healthy primary care patients. The article is titled “The Impact of Whole-Genome Sequencing on the Primary Care and Outcomes of Healthy Adult Patients: A Pilot Randomized Trial.” In the MedSeq Project, 100 healthy individuals and their primary care physicians were enrolled and randomized so that half of the patients received whole genome sequencing and half did not. Nearly 5,000 genes associated with rare genetic conditions were expertly analyzed in each sequenced patient, and co-investigators from many different disciplines including clinical genetics, molecular genetics, primary care, ethics, and law were involved in analyzing the results.
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