Nova

Cracking Your Genetic Code

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What will it mean when most of us can afford to have the information in our DNA -- all three billion chemical letters of it -- read, stored and available for analysis? As NOVA reveals in "Bioethics" we stand on the verge of a revolution in medicine, the first effects of which are already upon us. We meet cancer patients returned to robust health and a cystic fibrosis sufferer breathing easily, because scientists have been able to pinpoint and neutralize the genetic abnormalities underlying their conditions. But we also meet ethicists convinced we need to consider the moral dilemmas raised by the new technology. Will it help or hurt us to know that we are likely to come down with a serious disease? What if such information falls into the hands of insurance companies, employers, prospective mates? Should parents be allowed to select embryos with specific characteristics? Both ominous and promising, the new era of personalized, gene-based medicine is one thing for certain: it's relevant to everyone. Because soon you will be deciding whether to join the ranks of those who know what their genes reveal.

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