Genetic testing research has aided the medical community for the last 30 years, making historic strides in the field of medicine regarding the understanding of long-term genetic illnesses. In the ‘90s, the NIH worked with the U.S. Department of Energy to launch the Human Genome Project, which was aimed at mapping human genetic material.
This research helped scientists discover the genes that cause diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s, which has provided instrumental information to the medical professionals treating those diseases. This research has had far-reaching impact in medicine, and it continues to be a powerful resource for doctors to understand how to treat their patients.
Genetic Testing Patient Benefits
Genetic testing allows patients to receive personalized preventative screenings, risk reductions, and targeted disease management for their individual health management plans. Now that this research has become more common, human genome sequencing and genetics have become key to the medical care and treatment a medical professional is able to offer their patients. Genetic information provides essential information that can help achieve better patient outcomes when genetic factors are integral to the type of care a person should receive.
This can be especially important for patients without an extensive family medical history, as this often plays a part in diagnosing patients accurately. According to Deputy Chief Information Officer and Chief of Clinical Informatics at the NIH Michelle Lardner RN, “Genomics is a central science for nursing practice because essentially all diseases and conditions have a genetic or genomic component.” Even for illnesses with no known causes, genetic components of illnesses can provide detailed information and insight to what a patient may be dealing with.
As technology advances, the medical community has more resources available to them to process data, make connections, and use genetic testing to achieve medical advancements. Preventative care remains one of the most effective methods of preventing and treating serious medical conditions like breast and cervical cancers, especially when genetic components can determine the likelihood of a person getting these illnesses. By looking closely at risk factors, medical professionals can give patient-specific care to women who display signs of being one of over 12,000 women who are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year.
Medical Research Through Genomics
Medical information and discoveries have always been a subject of interest among people, as they can help us understand our anatomy and creation. Medical marvels were put on display hundreds of years ago as the rarities of the human body fascinated many individuals and served to educate the public. Today, medical records still serve to educate the public and all those who are interested, as there is much to be learned from the medical data we have collected to date.
However, there is some debate on the balance between privacy and medical advancements through access to patient information, solely because in genetic testing, male chromosomes have led to the identification of certain patients. Although this is not a matter of great danger or concern, medical privacy is a factor of the utmost concern during medical research — one which continues to grow as our dependence on technology increases the risk of data breaches.
As the medical community gains a stronger understanding of genealogy through decades of research, it gains insight to how illnesses grow and mutate throughout lifespans and generations. Medical history is often made through research, as small discoveries help medical scientists to better understand the building blocks of life. With each discovery, patients receive access to a stronger medical understanding and better patient care.