Personalizing Medicine in Iceland


Iceland shocked the sporting world when it tied Argentina in the 2018 World Cup. It's also making waves in something called personalized medicine. The National Cancer Institute defines personalized or precision medicine as patient care that 'allows doctors to select treatments that are most likely to help patients based on a genetic understanding of their disease'.

Iceland is a leader in precision medicine because since the nineteen nineties, it's been asking citizens for their genomes and health information. With this robust collection of data, Iceland can identify people who are susceptible to certain diseases. But the nation is now confronted with ethical dilemmas around this data.

Even though years ago, Icelanders consented to giving their DNA, they didn't agree to being notified if health risks were discovered. Plus, at what age should you be told? If you have a form of a gene or allele that might cause you to develop late onset Alzheimer's should you know at age twelve or even twenty-one? Would you only want to know if the disease is preventable or curable?

We'd like to know your opinion on this, so head to because we Americans will face this same problem. The National Institutes of Health is recruiting one million people to contribute their genetic and health information to a project called 'All of Us'. They're already planning a genetic counseling service to deal with this issue. Hopefully this means we can reap the benefits of personalized health care in a responsible way.

More Information

Iceland faces DNA dilemma: Whether to notify people carrying cancer genes
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