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The advent of personal genomics is expected to have an effect on all aspects of an individual's life, from health to personal life, but this transition may come at the expense of privacy and protection. Individuals can now if they can afford it, have their whole genetic code written in digital form, learn about their physical and psychological states, and have their genome sequence updated and corrected to eliminate certain illnesses and improve their fitness. However, as science advances, the cost of whole-genome sequencing is decreasing. The documentary of Nova-Hastings ‘Cracking your genetic code’ explores the opportunities and challenges of the new era of personal genomics picturing the situation when a person can avail his entire genome sequence at a cost no more than $1,000 (NOVA). The thought-provoking documentary discusses recent successes and failures of personal genome sequencing through few case studies and brings the issues of social, legal and ethical implications of large-scale implementation to entire genome-sequencing into light.
The most appealing prospect of individual genome sequencing may be seen in the successful treatment of non-curable diseases. Of a series of interesting cases filmed in the documentary, the case of twins, Noah and Alexis, is particularly intriguing. The two were initially diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Before they have to accept the bitter reality, whole genome sequencing has successfully saved them from living an intolerable life. The genome sequencing has helped the healthcare professionals identify the presence of two inherited disorders in their genes that are treatable with drugs. This remarkable finding, which otherwise might have remained undiscovered without the help of genome sequencing, has turned their life into a blissful experience.
The application and advantages of whole genome sequencing are virtually limitless. Starting from the development of personalized medicine that can predict the risk of diseases and take necessary actions to prevent them, to a new world of diagnosis of undetectable diseases and finding possible cure for them.
Creating whole genome sequence of a person raises serious legal, ethical and social issues that may hinder the development and widespread acceptance of the technology. For example, it may cause loss of motivation in individual who will learn about his possibility to develop a terminal disease. Certainly, it affects the rest of the life. Starting from personal relationships to social life, all may be shattered by such information offered by genome sequencing. However, the science is rushing to eliminate the note of caution by developing technologies to help people handle their medical challenges.
Security concerns are important to the genome sequencing project. Many persons and organizations may illegally or unethically use genetic information of individuals and exploit them in many ways. For example, employers may select candidates analyzing their genetic information and are likely to drop individuals who bear the possibility to develop diseases to save their employee healthcare costs. People are likely to engage in relationship after reviewing genome sequence of their potential mates and make decisions about their conjugal life based on the genetic code of their spouses. This would bring serious problem in the societal setup and is likely to render social system useless. Insurance, advertising and many consumer service companies will buy or collect copies of genome sequence of their potential consumers to select their target consumers. Stealing, forgery and hacking individual’s gene information will be a common crime. The price of healthy genes will be high and may cost life to many healthy individuals because other will try to use their genes.
The documentary is concise in length but precise in its technical information. It teaches how DNA sequence codes protein sequences and affects their functionalities. Understanding of a disease from a genetic level is made easy by the film; a problematic or incorrect DNA sequencing creates wrong protein sequence, which affects its functionality and creates disease; selective drugs can specifically target these wrong protein sequences and correct them to eliminate the disease.
The short documentary is full of information and opinions from experts that are interlaced between scenes. Many experts in the field explaining the basics of genetics, SNP typing and the future of the technology make the film resourceful and enjoyable. Despite being overburdened with the loads of information to be covered, the documentary successfully delivered a handful of understandable contents in an interesting and clear way. It is obvious from the documentary that the genome sequencing can be successfully implemented in the diagnosis and cure many untreatable disease and it can be the opening of next generation healthcare and medicine. However, despite the technology have shown immense potential in shaping individual’s life, it is still in infancy level. The technology still needs major development and answering many questions on how it will handle ethical, social and legal issues in order achieve widespread acceptance and application.
NOVA, PBS. "PBS NOVA S39E15 - Cracking Your Genetic Code WGBH2." YouTube, 23 July 2015, www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Fq2mOCTX6k&feature=youtu.be.
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