What are the advantages of examining the human genome? Is there any disadvantage?

The genome is sometimes called as “a design of life”.  It is considered to have a lot of information on the formation and function of the body, about evolution, ancestry and family relations.  By investigating and analyzing the human genome, it is expected to be used for various purposes which will benefit both individuals and the whole society.


The great expectation is given to elucidation of the cause of human diseases and development of its treatments.  Recently, special attention is given on very small differences in individual genome and attempts are made on precise diagnose.  Besides, it is used for personal health-related constitution forecast, parent-child appraisal, personal identification for criminal appraisal, etc.


The probable disadvantage may be occurred if such information is abused.  There is a possibility that a person may be treated unfairly, if another person who should not know such information.  For example, the social opportunities such as employment are unreasonably narrowed for individuals who are predicted to have higher risks of disease than the average.  Another example may be the  Infringement of rights by unnecessary appraisals on relationships such as parents and children.


At the same time that the expectation for the use of genomic information is increasing, it may be seemed to that previously mentioned diseases-relation, constitution, personal ability and family relations may be prescribed only in the genome.  It is important for each person to be careful that there is nothing determined only by the genome.

Now, it is the time for the society as a whole should think about the use of genome information to gain maximum advantages while reducing disadvantages.


*1 Please refer below URL for explanations about human genome at Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Life Science Plaza Efforts towards Bioethics and Safety Human genome research website (in Japanese).


There are some people worrying about discrimination by genetic information, but why is discrimination appears by understanding the genetic information?

It became possible to know the constitution of that person and the possibility of developing a future disease from genetic information.  Because of that, even currently healthy people may receive disadvantages at employment or promotion of their jobs.  Also, peoples may not be subscribed to life insurance by their future rick of illness.  In addition, you may be discriminated at marriage by genetic information, because the genetic information may be handed to descendants.  Furthermore, these disadvantages may be exerted not only to him/herself but to the relatives, because some of the genetic information is shared among relatives.