The use of whole genome sequencing in clinical practice: challenges and organisational considerations for Belgium

R300

KCE Reports 300 (2018)

The sequencing of the entire genome is a new form of genetic testing which, instead of targeting certain isolated genes, decodes all of an individual’s genes all at once (= his or her genome). This technology is advancing rapidly and its costs are decreasing, which suggests that it could soon displace conventional testing. This is not without a certain number of problems which are ethical (because geneticists will be faced with information they did not request) and also organisational and financial in nature. How can this technological advancement be integrated into Belgian healthcare? Who will be able to request these analyses?

Who will have enough expertise to interpret their results? How and by whom will they be communicated to the patient? How will the management and security of the resultant gigabytes of results be organised? And of course, how will this be financed?

In order to be able to explore the responses to these different issues in an unhurried fashion, we recommended that the complete genome sequencing technology be introduced as a first step in the form of a pilot project, which would enable the problems to be tackled one by one with the parties concerned, and various solutions to be tested – and assessed!  – before making definitive decisions which will set our country on the path of this decidedly futuristic technology.

Published on: 
2018/02/19