1 Genetic medicine: dreams and realities
Genetics can be used in medicine to confirm a previous or make a fresh diagnosis, or predict a disorder likely to occur in future. At the moment, that is often all that can be done. The so-called ‘diagnostic therapeutic gap’ is one immediate problem for us to deal with. When the only options on offer after a genetic test are to terminate a pregnancy, or prepare to deal with the disease as best you can, some of the dilemmas of new genetic knowledge are sharper.
Genetic testing is only the beginning of the effect of genetics on medicine. What about treatment? This course looks at various ways in which the new knowledge of the human genome will affect how illnesses are treated. These treatments are already getting underway. We look at the one that gets talked about most — gene therapy — but also at other possibilities, which may be more important in the short term. These include using information about a person's genotype to prescribe drugs more closely tailored to their body chemistry.
Before you move on to the next page, watch the following video clip that describes the process of fertilization.