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AMP commends SACGHS whole genome sequencing focus, raises ethical questions and forms working group
Date:6/16/2010

WASHINGTON, DC (June 15, 2010) Today, the Association for Molecular Pathology (AMP) presented public comments to the Secretary's Advisory Committee on Genetics, Health and Society (SACHGS) meeting focused on whole genome sequencing. In anticipation of advances in sequencing and its incorporation into clinical practice, AMP raised ethical and laboratory practice concerns for the Committee's consideration.

"In the next five years, the application of whole genome sequencing techniques in the lab and subsequently the clinic is a very real possibility," said Dr. Karen Mann, President of AMP. "There is a coming shift from using targeted molecular tests to using whole genome sequencing techniques and AMP commends the Committee for focusing its attention on the many challenges to the adoption of whole genome sequencing into clinical care."

As the technology advances, AMP's concerns focus on the clinical applications of whole genome sequencing. The advent or adoption of the technology itself is not controversial, but how clinical laboratories apply the technology and physicians utilize the information to inform clinical decision-making can generate many ethical challenges and laboratory practice questions.

AMP believes that the cornerstone of integrating this technology into laboratory practice will be the assessment of its clinical utility. Dr. Mann posed the question, "How can three billion base pairs of sequence and identification of the sequence of ~20,000 genes be coupled to clinical utility?" She added that "it will be difficult for molecular pathologists to associate meaning with the data generated by these tests and define a normal genome." AMP further believes that determining normal variation will be a major challenge when interpreting sequence results from tumor samples.

In its comments, AMP highlighted the following challenges and encouraged SACGHS to discuss these areas of concern:

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Contact: Mary Steele Williams
mwilliams@amp.org
301-634-7921
Association for Molecular Pathology
Source:Eurekalert

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