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Personal genome, public health
Date:9/18/2013

ill examine how the genome affects a person's response to a flu vaccine as well as to the virus. "Although vaccinations are generally safe and highly effective interventions for disease prevention, understanding more about the genetics of an individual's response may help us design vaccines that maximize protective efficacy while minimizing the potential for adverse events," says Ruth Karron, a co-investigator in the CEER and director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Immunization Research. She says that in the future, genomic information could result in the production and use of vaccines with more refined understanding of effects on particular subpopulations, which will necessitate decisions about prioritization, privacy, opt-out policies and genotyping for flu-resistant first responders.

The project will also assess the ELSI issues arising from recent Hepatitis C studies, including research conducted by GUIDE co-investigators Chloe Thio and Priya Duggal, showing that individuals with a specific variation of the gene IFNl3 had five times better response to treatment and three times better chance of clearing the virus spontaneously, without treatment. These discoveries raise important questions about disclosure of genetic status as well as the use of expensive therapies in those individuals carrying the mutation. Currently Hepatitis C is found in virtually every region of the world, with an estimated 123 million people chronically infected.

"Hepatitis C is a timely and crucial case study in the necessity of clear ethical guidance for rapidly advancing public health genomics," says Geller. "Should individuals with the IFNl3 variation receive different treatments and priority? Should reporting the IFNl3 variation be mandatory?" Kahn adds that "These are among the questions the Berman Institute's CEER will address in our Hepatitis C case study, with the goal of producing an ethical framework that can apply more widely to genomics in the context
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Contact: Leah Ramsay
lramsay@jhu.edu
202-642-9640
Johns Hopkins Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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