On the 1st of September, 2020 the Australian Medical Association (AMA) updated its policy on genetic testing to recognise the importance of genomics in healthcare.
President of the AMA, Dr Omar Khorshid, acknowledged the capacity of genetics and genomics to rapidly transform health care, stating “the AMA believes genetic and genomic technologies should be incorporated into everyday health care, and that genetic discrimination should be prohibited.”
Here are the key take-away points from the updated policy
- It recognises the importance and role of genomics in healthcare,
- Makes clear that the AMA supports the current legislation prohibiting the patenting of human genes,
- Makes clear that the AMA condemns the practice of eugenics
- Reaffirms the position that genetic selection should not be undertaken on the basis of sex unless it is to reduce the risk of transmission of a sex-dependent condition, but expands this to also include or a disease that would severely limit the person’s quality of life,
- Incorporates a new section on the emerging issue of genome editing, addressing both somatic and germline genome editing, recognising these technologies may be acceptable for research purposes, provided they are appropriately regulated, and
- Is clear that germline genome editing for the purposes of reproduction should be prohibited at this time as it requires further scientific, ethical, and social considerations because the potential risks to the health of future generations are as yet unclear.
myDNA’s founder and Medical Director, Prof Les Sheffield, welcomed the statement from the AMA, despite having been providing these services for several years.
“myDNA has been proud to provide genomic testing services for the last 10 years in Australia and now provides such services in many countries worldwide. We believe the secret to successful genomic testing is high quality interpreting and reporting of the results.”
What does this mean for consumers?
According to the statement, the AMA now officially recognises the importance and role of genomics in healthcare. This ushers in another wave of using genetics and genomics to better manage the health of Australians
The policy also brings in some new security, addressing issues such as consent to genetic testing, and the protection of personal genetic information, genetic discrimination, direct-to-consumer genetic tests, access to testing services, research, gene and genetic patents, genetic selection and genome editing.
“myDNA endorses the AMA genomic statement about privacy, as we’ve always advocated that personal and genetic information should remain the property of customers. To that end, myDNA requires consent from the individual being tested and maintains strict confidentially about individual results as outlined by the AMA policy,” explained Prof Sheffield.
It will also be a beneficial step forward for our partners
Genetic testing has become more and more accessible in the last decade, but as the Position Statement calls for a national approach to ensure “equitable and efficient access to safe, evidence based genetic testing services.” myDNA hope this can accelerate accessibility and the applications of testing even further. We already work directly with a range of healthcare professionals and are excited to see where greater awareness and endorsement of the benefits of genomics will mean for ours and parallel industries, let alone what it might mean for new research and increased funding.