Ethical issues dog genetic testing and biobanks

IT COULD change the way disease is diagnosed and treated: millions of human tissue samples, their information stored in vast databases, allowing health researchers to trawl for patterns.

The patterns could point to disease risk among population groups, and could one day lead to the possibility of personalised medicine. This sort of research is particularly important for Africa, whose populations are caught between infectious diseases, such as malaria, on the one hand, and lifestyle diseases, such as diabetes, on the other. Africans have historically been neglected in the field of genetic research.

“The unique genome dynamics in African populations have an important role to play in understanding human health and susceptibility,” Wits University’s Prof Michele Ramsay, chairwoman of the South African Society for Human Genetics, wrote in 2012.

For more, find the article — originally published in Business Day — here.

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