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Open Access Publications from the University of California

DNA Sequence Analysis in Clinical Medicine, Proceeding Cautiously.


Delineation of underlying genomic and genetic factors in a specific disease may be valuable in establishing a definitive diagnosis and may guide patient management and counseling. In addition, genetic information may be useful in identification of at risk family members. Gene mapping and initial genome sequencing data enabled the development of microarrays to analyze genomic variants. The goal of this review is to consider different generations of sequencing techniques and their application to exome sequencing and whole genome sequencing and their clinical applications. In recent decades, exome sequencing has primarily been used in patient studies. Discussed in some detail, are important measures that have been developed to standardize variant calling and to assess pathogenicity of variants. Examples of cases where exome sequencing has facilitated diagnosis and led to improved medical management are presented. Whole genome sequencing and its clinical relevance are presented particularly in the context of analysis of nucleotide and structural genomic variants in large population studies and in certain patient cohorts. Applications involving analysis of cell free DNA in maternal blood for prenatal diagnosis of specific autosomal trisomies are reviewed. Applications of DNA sequencing to diagnosis and therapeutics of cancer are presented. Also discussed are important recent diagnostic applications of DNA sequencing in cancer, including analysis of tumor derived cell free DNA and exosomes that are present in body fluids. Insights gained into underlying pathogenetic mechanisms of certain complex common diseases, including schizophrenia, macular degeneration, neurodegenerative disease are presented. The relevance of different types of variants, rare, uncommon, and common to disease pathogenesis, and the continuum of causality, are addressed. Pharmogenetic variants detected by DNA sequence analysis are gaining in importance and are particularly relevant to personalized and precision medicine.

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