Sequencing an individual's DNA seems destined to become an increasingly
prominent part of medical care. Once a genetic alteration has been identified
and characterized by researchers, testing for it is relatively simple, requiring
only white blood cells obtained via a routine blood draw. Because so many
diseases are influenced by heredity, investigators are likely to identify
numerous alterations associated with illness in the human genome. In the past,
genetic testing concerned the next generation: decisions about whether to
have a child (eg, Tay-Sachs disease, cystic fibrosis, and Down syndrome) and
screening of newborns (eg, phenylketonuria and sickle cell anemia).
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