Better Genetic Data Could Help With a Cancer Cure

As the federal government embarks on its moonshot to cure cancer, researchers are clamoring for a bit of additional assistance. They say greater availability to study variant genes in human DNA could enable them to more clearly understand the disease while also being able to better tell who might be at risk. This, in turn, could lead to move effective, and potentially lifesaving, preventative methods.

While variant genes in human DNA are a hot topic of research, science still knows very little about them. Only a fraction of the possible variants have been identified because of a lack of access to this information. While oncologists do gather genetic information from some patients, this information isn’t readily shared and it tends to be tumor specific. What’s more, there is no clear cut path for sequencing the genetic codes of people who have cancer. Insurance companies cover genetic sequencing of tumors themselves, but do not necessarily cover the more holistic picture. When they do, this information is not readily shared due to a federal rule that protects medical data from being shared to protect patient privacy.

Hoping to gain greater insights into the genetic mutation connection that leads to cancer, researchers are pushing the federal government to relax some of the rules. They would also like to see greater coverage availability for full genetic sequencing.

Human DNA may very well hold the key to curing, or at least preventing cancer. Until a greater understanding of variant genes in humans is had, some researchers fear no effort to eradicate the disease entirely will be successful.

An estimated 1.7 million people are diagnosed with cancer each year in the United States. Some 600,000 people die from the disease. The government’s moonshot is a major step in the right direction, researchers say, but it may fall short of the mark if a greater understanding of variant genes isn’t included in the effort.

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