71 per cent of Australians believe that gene testing does not necessarily contribute to effective cancer or disease treatment according to a survey by Lonergan on behalf of gene technology company, Illumina.
At the same time, researchers from 50 countries are discussing how genetic testing is helping with a wide range of diseases including stuttering, mitochondrial disease, cerebral palsy, and many cancers.
And DNA screening for risk of disease that can be prevented or treated (like some cancers or heart disease) is being offered to 10,000 Australians (18-40yo) through the DNA Screen pilot study led by Monash University.
“Gene testing and genomic medicine are already transforming lives,” says Professor Phil Batterham, co-convenor of the International Congress of Genetics. “Gene testing is helping to save the lives of critically ill children and explaining the causes of genetic diseases.”
“Today, in Melbourne, your genome can be sequenced for a few thousand dollars in a few days. And the information can be used to identify your risk of disease, and to create a unique treatment for your cancer.” he says.
And yet, the Lonergan survey reports that 71 per cent of Australians believe that gene testing does not necessarily contribute to effective cancer or disease treatment.
Many Australians also have concerns about genomic medicine. Only 27% surveyed expressed no concerns. The majority of people have a range of concerns around genomics from anxiety over potential disease (38%), data leakage (34%), discoveries raising insurance premiums (24%) to genetic information being used in cloning (23%) and gene editing (24%).
“The survey illustrates the need for further education around the benefits of genomics, and the vital and growing role it plays in medicine,” says Phil.
“Public understanding of genetic concepts and policy issues are key to enabling informed deliberation and decision-making.”
Simon Giuliano, Country Lead Australia, Illumina is available for interview about the survey. Illumina is a global leader in DNA sequencing and array-based technologies.
Population DNA screening for disease risk is coming
DNA screening for risk of disease that can be prevented or treated (like some cancers or heart disease) is being offered to 10,000 Australians (18-40yo) though the DNA Screen pilot study, with a strong uptake from the public.
This testing could save lives, but there are many ethical and societal issues to consider. Are Australians ready for this kind of testing? Would you take the test? What are the benefits? What are the drawbacks? How does this compare to international approaches?
Panellists Paul Lacaze and Jane Tiller from Monash University and Nancy Cox from Vanderbilt University are available for interview. The free forum is hosted by Natasha Mitchell, presenter of ABC Radio National’s Big Ideas program and podcast. https://www.icg2023.com.au/population-dna-screening
Other stories from the Congress
- New gene linked to persistent stuttering
- Early and personalised interventions into cerebral palsy
- Fast living killifish suffer from the same diseases of aging that we do
- Faster, kinder, less expensive: using genomic sequencing to diagnose mitochondrial disorders
- Cold cases: could reanalysis help the 70% of patients who don’t get a diagnosis from their genomic testing
- Finding plants and animals out of thin air on the prairies
- Why are pygmy perch so small?
For accreditation and interviews contact Niall Byrne, email@example.com, 0417-131-977, or Sarah Brooker, firstname.lastname@example.org, 0413-332-489.
Full Congress program at https://www.icg2023.com.au
Public program details at https://www.icg2023.com.au/public-program
Media releases at https://www.scienceinpublic.com.au/genetics