Friday, August 3, 2007

Prediction and Addiction

Pediatrics and Nicotine -

A recent publication on pediatric genetic testing for nicotine addiction reported the results of an attitudes survey of 232 health providers attending a conference on adolescent health. In "Interest in Genetic Counseling and Testing for Adolescent Nicotine Addiction Susceptibility ... ", the authors from the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown University (Kenneth Tercyak, Beth Peshkin, Anisha Abraham and Leslie Walker) examined correlates in providers' interests:
    Providers who engaged in more regular tobacco screening behaviors with their adolescent patients ... and those who were more optimistic that biobehavioral research would lead to significant improvements in adolescent smoking prevention and treatment ... , were more interested in counseling and testing.
Although the genetic test is not yet clinically available, the authors conclude that "future, adolescent wellness visits may present an opportunity to offer genetic counseling and testing for nicotine addiction susceptibility.
    Tercyak KP, Peshkin BN, Abraham A, Wine L, Walker LR. Interest in genetic counseling and testing for adolescent nicotine addiction susceptibility among a sample of adolescent medicine providers attending a scientific conference on adolescent health. J Adolesc Health. 2007 Jul;41(1):42-50. [Abstract at PredictER Connotea.]
Criminal Justice and Addiction Risks -

Genetic testing for addiction could have far reaching implications in the criminal justice system. A press release from The University of Texas Health Center at Tyler ("Four researchers at UT Health Center receive grants ... ".News & Information. Thursday, July 19, 2007) announced a four year of $1.76 million from the NIH to study the ethical, legal, and social implications of the non-health use of personal genetic data. Genetic tests could be used, for example, in determining the length of sentences for offenders with genetic risks for addiction. The project will:
    · Create an open-access online database of the current criminal and sentencing laws employing drug addiction information;
    · Survey the attitudes and information needs of drug-court judges, corrections officers, and drug treatment professionals regarding genetic research and the science of addiction;
    · Engage these stakeholders in public discussions of the issues;
    · Develop an open access, online resource for training, education, and reference materials on the subject.
In describing the need for the program, the director, T. Howard Stone, Associate Professor of Bioethics, remarked:
    We hope that our findings have some influence on the development of state laws and policies for the use of this genetic data in these settings. Right now there’s no uniformity. Jurisdictions may treat this information very differently.
Other institutions involved in this study include the Mayo Clinic Foundation, Stanford University, University of Louisville, St. Louis University (MO), The Hastings Center, and the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (Louisville, KY).

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