Man has DNA mapped to find risks of disease

A HUMAN guinea pig has become the first person in the world to have all his DNA screened for unknown disease risk factors.

The results revealed heightened risks of heart disease, cardiac arrest, diabetes and prostate cancer, as well as information about likely responses to certain medicines.

Similar assessments could be offered to the general public within the next decade as the cost of genetic mapping plummets, say the researchers.

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American scientist Professor Stephen Quake, 40, from Stanford University School of Medicine, who subjected himself to the test after being counselled about the possible consequences, said: "We're at the dawn of a new age of genomics. Information like this will enable doctors to deliver personalised healthcare like never before."

Several of the study authors warned that major ethical challenges lay ahead and questioned the wisdom of placing no limits on uncovering such sensitive information.

Professor Henry Greely, from Stanford Law School in California, said patients, doctors and geneticists are about to be hit by a "tsunami" of genetic data.

"The experience with Steve Quake's genome shows we need to start thinking – hard and soon – about how we can deal with that information," he added.