Wednesday, June 4, 2008
I am preparing a talk for the Connecticut Geriatric Society and I am just can't get over it. We haven't found good genes for Late Onset Alzheimer's Disease since 1994. Sure we have SORL1, GALP and MAPT from the sexy Genome Wide Studies....but nothing increases risk like APOE Epsilon4.
In fact when you look at all the other genetic risks, NONE top an Odds Ratio of 1.5. Why do a I always harp on Odds Ratios? It's simple. If you can't beat the family history risk increase (300-500%) for a first generation relative, then you can't have much clinical significance, unless you have a multiple gene panel that does.
Why is clinical utility so important? Why not just test everyone with everything. I see several problems with this.
1. False Reassurances, patients are led to believe they won't get some devastating disease and thus fail to plan appropriately. And in some cases take preventative measure...This is called Harm to Patient and it is malpractice.
2. Inappropriate Action, there are several modifiable risk factors in many diseases. This often is argued as the reason FOR testing everyone. But this only assumes that modifying behaviors are actually good things. But, did you know some things like vitamins can actually be bad and promote things like cancers? So you mega dose on Folate and end up promoting breast or colon cancer because you found out that you "Process Folate poorly" on a Nutrigenomics test. And that is just Folate, what about preventative medications? Even more dangerous!
3. Exposure to Discrimination, as I stated in previous posts GINA has passed, but will not go into effect until 2009. In addition, GINA does not cover disability, life, or long term care insurance. Nor does it cover any form of discrimination outside of workplace or health insurance. Medical records can be subpoenaed. However, in most states it is illegal to ask for health records without good cause. Unlike corporate information, which can be bought and sold without YOUR permission! This includes identifying factors Ladies and Gentleman!!! This is why this testing should be done in the realm of healthcare protection.
These are merely 3 of the many reasons I see that we should not be applying SNP scans to everyone. There has to be some clinical significance for actions. If you want consumer enabled research, then you have to protect the consumer. Just as if they were a subject under the protections of an Institutional Review Board.
The Sherpa Says: I could go on a diatribe about this forever. But I have a talk to prepare. Imagine this 80% heritability and only 1 gene for Late Onset Alzhemiers....we must not be looking in the right place.