Blog | Thursday, September 25, 2008

Whole body CT scans are SO last year...

What do Rupert Murdoch, Ivanka Trump and Harvey Weinstein have in common?

All have recently attended a "spit party" according to the New York Times.

"What's that", you ask? Well, it seems that, in a natural progression from whole-body CT scans, folks are now gathering in festive huddles so they may spit into test tubes, then have their DNA tested to see if they are predisposed to develop various diseases and conditions.

Now that's my idea of a good time.

The company behind this idea, 23andMe, drastically lowered its price in September to an affordable $399, so the average Joe or Jane can have the chance to spit into a tube, drop it in the mail, and get their results back about a month later. ("23andme Democratizes Personal Genetics," the Web site declares proudly).

All kidding aside, I'm thinking this could have big implications for physicians if panicked patients start coming in with genetic profiles that show they are doomed for such and such disease-- or alternatively, that they have nothing to worry about, so why bother with those statins, that diet, that exercise plan?

Then again, perhaps if you find out early that you are predisposed to a condition, you can change your habits to help ward it off-- like Google co-founder Sergey Brin, who plans to donate much of his substantial wealth to medical research since he now knows he's prone to Parkinson's.

What do you think, readers? Is this development a positive or negative one for patients? For you?