Using gene map science to evaluate the genetic map and eliminate disease

Ethics of Genetic Mapping

The advances in genetic mapping have made very real what seemed so improbable twenty years ago. Genetic mapping now makes it possible to perform gene testing on people and assess their predisposition to develop certain diseases. Genetic mapping is a powerful tool that human society can use to better their lot; but it is also vulnerable to abuse. Many ethical, legal and societal issues are beginning to emerge.

There is the issue on how the genetic information will be used, by government, the military, courts, insurance companies, and employers, among others. The use by employers is of special concern to job-holders and job-seekers alike.

For instance, there is the fear that employers will use gene testing (also called DNA-based testing) results to exclude people with high likelihood of developing certain diseases. It can also be used to exclude employees from certain job assignments. There are many opportunities for improper use of gene tests by employers.

On the other hand, there may be legitimate or even necessary uses for it. There may be jobs that are dangerous for a person with a predisposition to a medical condition. A chemical firm, for instance, might be interested to know whether an employee is susceptible to disease by long-term exposure to a chemical agent. Government safety regulations establish levels for average persons, but what if the person is not average?

It is also uncertain how insurers will handle information from gene testing. Many insurance companies still exclude genetic tests from coverage, but the companies that provide cover sure will want to know the results. Should the insured let them have it? Will insurers use the information to discriminate against certain people?

Interpretation of gene tests is still surrounded with uncertainties. In the wrong hands, results could be used to discriminate or socially stigmatize people.



Genetic Markers

You know how an interstate map can guide you from one city to another. A genetic map is like that, and it guides researchers toward their target gene. Just as there are landmarks in interstate maps, there also are landmarks in genetic maps known as genetic markers...
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A hereditary unit that occupies a certain position on a chromosome; a unit that has one or more specific effects on the phenotype, and can mutate to various allelic forms.