Precision medicine dampened by lack of diversity in gene research pool

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Image: iStock

[Anthropologist and bioethicist Sandra Soo-Jin Lee] recently wrote about ethics in personalized medicine research for Science magazine, and we spoke with her about why increasing diversity is important. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Why is it important for the gene research pool to become more diverse? Is diversifying the gene pool something that only really benefits underrepresented populations?

We’re making a public investment in these resources. And the goal is to address health disparities, which are an enduring concern in our society. Health disparities are most significant among those who are underrepresented in our research databases. … and so it becomes an important moral issue.

The greater diversity would be brought in by African, Hispanic and Latin American ancestry. But it’s not as if the benefits would only flow to those populations — it actually benefits everyone.

In recent studies, where scientists are using more diverse resources, they’ve been able to find different variants that they were not aware of, that might be important in terms of understanding disease. So there are good indications that more diversity will actually make us more precise in terms of our precision medicine.

Read full, original post: Mistrust And Lack Of Genetic Diversity Slow Gains In Precision Medicine

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