EVERY FEW MONTHS, or more often, there's a report that researches have identified a gene as the potential indicator of proclivity toward disease or a potential clue in the study of disease. Research of this type is one of the byproducts of the Human Genome Project, a 13-year effort in which at least 18 countries have participated.

Like most other major projects, the research claims to offer benefits, including increased understanding of disease and how it operates. There are also those who see negatives such as the invasion of privacy through the collection of DNA samples or gene testing by a potential employer. These activities have a direct impact on individuals who may be denied medical benefits. Such tests can also suggest to parents of a newborn child that there is a genetic defect that will cause problems as the child gets older.

In essence, these outcomes present a form of genetic predestination. Although some experts admit that the proclivities aren't determinative, the shadow of disease or other trouble can hang over an individual, practically from birth, along with all the uncertainty that goes with it.

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October 12, 2009

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