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A recent research may enable doctors to use the genetic profiles of patients to predict with great accuracy which treatment and prevention protocols will work for them, but requires greater inclusion of ethnic minorities as well.
Sandra Soo-Jin Lee, an anthropologist, and bioethicist said that to improve medical care researchers need more data about the individual differences that make each of us unique.
"Without engaging underrepresented communities in genetic studies, efforts to move precision science forward may recapitulate ongoing inequities in health care and limit and bias the research. The early stages of precision medicine offer a critical window in which to intervene before research practices and their consequences become locked in," Lee said in the study which was published in the journal of Science.
Precision medicine relies on the collection of biospecimens, electronic records and other sources of behavioral and environmental data, Lee said.
Diseases can present differently among ethnic groups. They may, for example, appear at an earlier age, or they may progress more rapidly or respond disparately to treatment.
The study will explore how these centres recruit participants and collect, measure and share data. It will also examine how they communicate the findings of their research.
"We are looking to see if there are unintended consequences that would limit researchers' ability to meet diversity recruitment goals, address social and biological causes of health disparities, and distribute the benefits of precision medicine equitably," Lee said.
Lee warned that building a diverse genetic database may prove challenging. He also stressed that, as a result, recruiting for diverse participation alone is not nearly enough.
"An ethics of inclusion demands transparency and a culture of openness. Precision medicine studies must open themselves up to multidisciplinary teams that include social scientists, ethicists, and policymakers who can identify and implement practices that respect the histories and concern of diverse populations-and recognize where reform is needed," she said.
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