Regular readers know that the world famous polymath Prof Aillo only publishes his groundbreaking work once a year on April 1st and only in the Denmark Doctor. This year’s seismic research is all about genetics.
It took over a decade and $2.7 billion dollars to sequence the first whole genome. For most of us a book containing the correct sequence of your 3 billion base pairs making up 20,000 genes and a lot of other DNA which is still very puzzling, is a pretty boring book. But for geniuses like Prof Aillo they are the future of modern medicine. He has had many a happy evening pouring over innumerable strings of ATC & Gs (letter representing the base pairs of DNA and hence its code).
The Prof is on the verge of producing a desktop analyser which will be able to decode your total genetic makeup within 24 hours – as long as it takes to get a routine blood test back. He is, at heart, a computer programmer and for him your DNA is simply the code that describes everything about you. Not only that, it is capable, through changes in your DNA over time, to tell him about your past and enable him to predict your future with 90% accuracy. And this knowledge is not limited to your hair colour but enables him to predict whether you’ll develop heart disease or cancer and when.
However, it also picks up your emotional states and because the number of changes to your DNA is constant over time it means that he can date when you felt low or guilty or elated. With just one drop of your blood he can hold your life story in his hands.
The Prof is alert to some of the ethical mind-fields – for example ,if he can prove you committed an offence a decade as evidenced by a spike in your guilt levels on a particular day coupled with evidence of physical stress he may be able to deduce that you committed a crime, the ethical dilemma is should he shop you to the police? The recent duty of candour places an obligation on doctors to grass on their colleagues, if a blood test shows that a doctor will develop pre-senile dementia and is going for a job interview in a responsible position then it may be essential for that knowledge to be shared far and wide.
Similarly, if someone has, at birth, a genome which shows that they will become a murderer shouldn’t they be incarcerated before they commit a crime?
The Prof’s new machine promises to change the world as we know it, the question is whether the world is ready?