In Gattaca, the plot focuses on the ethics, the risks, and the emotional impact of genetic testing in the nearby future. The film was released in the 90s; yet in the present, the film does not give the impression of science fiction. Today, genetic testing is prevalent in many aspects of the scientific community. This paper will describe genetic testing, its purpose, diagnostic techniques that use genetic testing, relating Huntington’s disease to genetic testing, and the pros and cons of genetic testing.
Description of genetic testing
By using identified gene mutations that are known to cause diseases, asymptomatic individuals are able to discover if they are at risk for specific genetic conditions; this is known as genetic testing. Unfortunately, genetic testing can vary in its predictive ability. For example, Huntington disease, Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, Fragile X syndrome and multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 are conditions that can be determined by genetic testing (Samen, 1996). In contrast, for multifaceted diseases like Alzheimer’s, breast and ovarian cancer and colorectal cancer, predisposition can be determined with genetic testing. However, an absolute diagnosis of those diseases cannot be made (Heshka et al., 2008).
Examples of genetic testing in “Cracking Your Genetic Code”
In the film, two contrasting examples of genetic testing are shown. The first example is of the twins Noah and Alexis Beery, who are stricken with a rare disease that mimics cerebral palsy. Through genetic testing, doctors discovered that the twins could be treated with dopamine. By sequencing their entire genome, the twin’s lives were saved. The second example is Andrew S...
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Holt, S. (Director) (2012). Cracking your genetic code [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/body/cracking-your-genetic-code.html
Samen, F. (1996). Human genetic testing. North Dakota State University , Retrieved from http://www.ndsu.edu/pubweb/~mcclean/plsc431/students/firas.htm
Teutch, S., & Tuckson, R. Department of Health & Human Services, (2008). U.S. system of oversight of genetic testing: A response to the charge of the secretary of health and human services. Retrieved from website: http://osp.od.nih.gov/sites/default/files/SACGHS_oversight_report.pdf
Walker, F. (2007). Huntington’s disease. The Lancet. 369, 218-228. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(07)60111-1
What are the risks and limitations of genetic testing?. (2014, April 21). Genetics Home Reference, Retrieved from http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/handbook/testing/riskslimitations
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