November 2019, Matt Hancock, former United Kingdom health secretary, he revealed a desire for exaltation: following the instincts of every child in the world. It could lead to “genomic changes,” he said, in the future into “predictable, preventative, health care.”
Hancock’s dream is coming true. In October, the government he announced that Genomics England, a state-owned company, will receive funding to conduct research in the UK which aims to track the genomes of children between 100,000 and 200,000. Called the Newborn Genomes Program, the program will be integrated into the National Health Service in the UK and will look more closely at genetic “potential” – meaning those with treatment or intervention – as well as those that appear in childhood, such as pyridoxine-dependent epilepsy and congenital adrenal hyperplasia.
It’s been 18 months since the start of the recruitment process, says Simon Wilde, director of the Genomics England. The program does not meet Hancock’s goal of integrating “every child”; during the experiment, parents will be enrolled to participate. The results will be returned to parents “as soon as possible,” says Wilde. “In the rare cases that we are looking at, once you start intervening with treatment or care, then the long-term consequences for the baby are much better.”
The children’s genomes will also be identified and added to the National Genomic Research Library in the UK, where data can be collected by researchers and medical companies to study, with the aim of developing new therapies and diagnostics. The researcher’s goal, according to Genomics England, is to increase the number of genetic diseases that are studied at an early age in order to explore new therapies, and to explore the potential for human genetics to be part of their medical history. can be used later in life.
Following all genomes, creating a 3 billion map that generates genetic code, can bring back insight into your life. By comparing genomes with museums, scientists are able to identify a wide variety of genes, which are related to other diseases. As the cost of genome sequencing has skyrocketed (now it only costs hundreds of dollars and you can get results within a day), its promises to change health care become increasingly enticing – and immoral. Disclosing vast amounts of genetic information from millions of people needs to protect it from abuse. But proponents say that genetic mutations in babies are possible help to understand a rare disease in the past, to have better health in the future, and to improve all aspects of the genes.
Back in 2019, Hancock’s words left a bad taste in Josephine Johnston’s mouth. “It sounded like nonsense, as he said,” says Johnston, chief research officer at the Hastings Center, a bioethics research institute in New York, and a visiting researcher at the University of Otago in New Zealand. “It had this other policy, which is not about health – it is a policy that is clearly superior to technology, thus winning some kind of competition.”