Saturday, 11 October 2014

Will nursing be influenced by genomics?

Roger Watson, Editor-in-Chief

My original training was in biochemistry and I always considered the discovery by Watson & Crick of the double-helical structure of DNA to be one of the most exquisite and important in biology. It was exquisite in the sense that it explained how DNA was able to replicate and yet conserve the genetic code; it also provided a mechanism whereby messenger RNA, the template for building proteins, was coded and it started the search for the genetic code. This one discovery had many 'spin-offs' for the rest of biology and it was important as it also led to an understanding, at the molecular level, of how things go wrong in genetics and – ultimately – what we may be able to do about it. But, apart from in the role of genetic counselling, I did not consider that it may lead to changes in the way we deliver nursing practice...until I read a recent discussion paper by Munro (2014) and published in JAN titled Individual genetic and genomic variation: a new opportunity for personalized nursing interventions.

Pointing out that nursing has not yet embraced the possibilities of exploiting the consequences of genetic variation, Munro says: 'There are potentially many nursing interventions that would be more effective if they were individually tailored to the patient’s genetic/genomic profile.' The potential for this has manifest itself in the new relatively new fields of personalized medicine and pharmacogenomics, but Munro discusses the possibility, based on people's individual genetic make up of moving towards personalized nursing interventions. In the words of the author: 'The use of genetic variation to understand and predict human responses and to tailor nursing interventions is a powerful concept that could inform – and fundamentally change – nursing practice.'


Munro CL (2014) Individual genetic and genomic variation: a new opportunity for personalized nursing interventions Journal of Advanced Nursing DOI:10 1111/jan.12552

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