24-06-2016

“Genomic medical plan”: DNA sequencing soon for all French?


On June 22, 2016, the French Health Minister, Marisol Touraine announced the launch of the program “Genomic Medical Plan”, which consists in investing 670 million euros in 5 years to equip France with 12 platforms of high speed gene sequencing (to analyze DNA). A report entitled “Genomic Medicine in France, 2025” was submitted to the Government the same day. Sequencing of the genome consists in the complete analysis of the genes which compose DNA, allowing the diagnosis of some diseases, evaluating certain predispositions to some illnesses (predictive medicine) or even to adjust certain treatments. This plan is designed to improve the diagnosis of rare diseases, but also “common diseases” such as diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, for example. The goal is to establish genome clinics throughout France and to organize a national branch of genomic medicine.

To partake in the “revolution of personalized medicine”, the Minister specified that “we need to know each individual’s genome, in order to adapt medicine to the human capital of each person”.

This plan necessitates having access to thousands of numerical data (« big data ») on the population’s health. The conditions for access to this data and to their use constitute considerable ethical stakes, especially in the field of the right to privacy, and it has already been planned to consult with the National Ethics Consulting committee (CCNE) who published their Advice n°124 in January 2016 entitled:“ Ethical reflection on the evolution of genetic tests related to very high speed human DNA sequencing”.