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Norway Brings DNA Sequencing To National Healthcare 91

Posted by samzenpus
from the giant-book-tha's-hidden-inside-you dept.
ananyo writes "Norway is set to become the first country to incorporate genome sequencing into its national health-care system. The Scandinavian nation, which has a population of 4.8 million, will use 'next-generation' DNA sequencers to trawl for mutations in tumors that might reveal which cancer treatments would be most effective. In its three-year pilot phase, the Norwegian Cancer Genomics Consortium will sequence the tumor genomes of 1,000 patients in the hope of influencing their treatments. It will also look at another 3,000 previously obtained tumor biopsies to get a better idea of the mutations in different cancers, and how they influence a patient's response to a drug. In a second phase, the project will build the laboratory, clinical and computing infrastructure needed to bring such care to the 25,000 Norwegians who are diagnosed with cancer each year. Similar projects are under way in the United Kingdom and at research hospitals in the United States, France and elsewhere. But Norway's will be among the first to look for tumor mutations using next-generation DNA sequencing rather than conventional genetic testing."
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Norway Brings DNA Sequencing To National Healthcare

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  • In Soviet America (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cosm (1072588) <> on Friday February 03, 2012 @04:24AM (#38912703)
    DHS sequence your DNA. Come here comrade, we keep tabs on your DNAs. For your safety comrade. For your safety.
  • by global_diffusion (540737) on Friday February 03, 2012 @04:45AM (#38912765) Homepage
    It's sad to think that we can't do these kinds of massive human genome sequencing projects in America. Anybody who got their DNA sequenced would be at immediate risk of losing their healthcare or seeing their premiums triple.
  • by Fuzzy Viking (1140767) on Friday February 03, 2012 @04:59AM (#38912801)
    Land of the free - where anyone having health problems are FREE to live in a cardboard box... But then any attempts to socialize medicine gets voted down over there so I guess they have the system they deserve.
  • by Luckyo (1726890) on Friday February 03, 2012 @05:25AM (#38912889)

    This is one of the most insane claims I've read on slashdot. Government that tells you when to pee? (Obvious concern troll, but I'll bite).

    I think you're talking about things like making a law to ensure people wear helmets when riding bikes. Of course, being from a nordic, free and socialist... excuse me, communist, freedom hating degenerate land of free sex as your types likes to put it, we also trust that people understand that it's for their own good, and there is no punishment associated with it. You can ride a bike without a helmet, and police can legally stop you and tell you to get a helmet. But no fine.

    Because people around here aren't batshit insane and imagine that hurting themselves on purpose is somehow sticking it up to the Man.

    P.S. Nice concern troll.

  • by JaredOfEuropa (526365) on Friday February 03, 2012 @05:52AM (#38912971) Journal
    There are not many such restrictions as yet, but the pressure is on to somehow punish unhealthful behaviour, and it's not just coming from the crackpot politicians. Our government has traditionally been very active making suggestions for leading healthy and safe lives, and I think that's good, but with the economic squeeze and the looming long-term demographic issues around the corner, they are starting to sound less and less like suggestions. I don't think it will ever be nearly as bad as in my exaggerated example, but looking at the current economic situation and political landscape in my country, I think there's a good chance of at least some of these suggestions making it into the law books.
  • In the words of Napoleon: "If it will take that long, we must start at once!"
  • Re:Dammit Norway (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hxnwix (652290) on Friday February 03, 2012 @05:58AM (#38912979) Journal

    They're not that cold considering their latitude.

    Very true. Compare Trondheim's average daily temperatures to those of inland cities at the same latitude, such as Yakutsk. Due to the ocean and the gulf stream, Trondheim is something like 35C warmer in January than you might expect. Even a ways inland here in Skreia, Oppland, my outdoor thermometer is reading -13C, which is still a bit lower than average for this time of year. This is fine for working outside and skiing; grade school recess is outdoors and some kids around here walk 1km to their bus stop in these temperatures.

    There's a world of difference between Norwegian and Russian winter temperatures. -10C isn't any sort of problem; -40C is trees exploding, frostbite to your dick if you pee outside.

  • Re:Slashbias (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 03, 2012 @06:08AM (#38913027)

    Because Norway's governments (both right and left wings) have, repeatedly, demonstrated an ability to not fuck over the citizenry. Both sides are jockeying for positions, obviously, but where your politicians are downright evil, the worst people we have are merely incompetent.

  • by anyanka (1953414) on Friday February 03, 2012 @06:33AM (#38913119)

    Actually, you get too little of this (in Norway, at least).

    Prevention (in the form of getting people to eat healthier, exercise more, etc.) is typically paid from a different budget than the health care budget, and it's a lot easier to cut the prevention budget than the health care budget. So in practice the health care budget gets fatter, and little attention is paid to things that could have made people healthier. This also goes for things like welfare; if you'd used health care a bit more sensibly in some cases, you could get more people back to work and earn more taxes and pay less in disability benefits. But that would require a holistic view of spending, across departments and different levels of local and national government.

    And, of course, you can't cut the tax on fruit and vegetables without the dairy and meat industry complaining and wanting cuts too. Overall, eating healthy is a lot more expensive than eating junk food (assuming you're educated enough to *know* what food is healthy).

    You *do* have campaigns against smoking, though, and restrictions on alcohol (but that's more due to morals/puritanical tradition). But it's almost impossible to get treated for drug addiction, particularly if you life and health isn't already ruined by drugs...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 03, 2012 @06:51AM (#38913207)

    America has a higher drinking age, more restrictive alcohol sales laws, and harsher anti-smoking laws than any Western European country. Your country already punishes or restricts unhealthful behaviour very strongly, and you aren't even getting the benefit of universal healthcare.

  • by Luckyo (1726890) on Friday February 03, 2012 @06:51AM (#38913209)

    One of the key aspects of our societies (and by our I mean that of relatively small, wealthy European countries) has typically been openness to new. This means that suggestions that you and I find stifling, or even crazy should be allowed to be suggested.

    And when it's clearly against our ethics or culture, such suggestions should be shot down. As they do. To suggest stifling debate about those things on political level is to attempt to control the very freedom of speech we so cherish.

  • by Kjella (173770) on Friday February 03, 2012 @07:17AM (#38913303) Homepage

    They might be surprised if they expect their costs to be significantly reduced. The top graph [] here shows the average contribution in taxes/expenses for people of a certain age. What can you say from that graph? Mostly that the very healthy and long-lived are very expensive to the government, in fact if you've worked a few decades and die at 50 you're not actually a net expense. Note that the graph doesn't add to zero since this is per person and obviously there's rather few 100 year olds, but if you multiply by population at that age it ought to be roughly balanced.

    Here's the thing, everybody dies the only question is how. A long, protracted decline with failing health is far more expensive than the people that, sorry to be blunt, drop dead. Middle-aged people, even if they've attracted something serious like lung cancer from smoking or heart attacks from obesity tend to either die or recover, either way it's not that expensive. Meanwhile your 90 year old that's been in and out of hospital and made his slow recoveries has been a big expense, never mind the pensions, retirement homes, nursing homes and various other forms of aid. At least on average.

    We've been able to have a retirement age because the cost of carrying people to the end of their lives haven't been all that big. But now more and more people are having sunset decades instead of sunset years and they don't want to work longer just because they live longer. And with longer education, work life is possibly even getting shorter. Study until you're 25, work until you're 65, live until you're 85 - that's more than half your life not working. Top that off with people that are unfit to work - or perhaps more relevant today, out of work - and society is struggling.

    At the current predictions, I'd have to work until I'm 70. It's great that maybe we've added five years to the average lifespan so I'll be 90 instead of 85. But to make up for it you will have to take three year from 67 to 70 and turn retirement years into working years. Like so many countries in Europe are finding out now, the government can't make that money for nothing. The cost to keep me alive is coming out of my own hide, one way or the other. If I were to stuff myself full of things to I choke at 70 instead of 90, I should be rewarded not punished.

  • by rmstar (114746) on Friday February 03, 2012 @07:40AM (#38913391)

    The idea of a "socially engineered society", the idea that managing many aspects of people's behaviour and society as a whole through laws and taxes is not only possible but desirable, is deeply rooted in our country.

    What you are describing is precisely what a society with a government is. Anyone who thinks that a "socially engineered society" is not desirable at all is a libertarian. And, IMO, also deluded. You will get a socially engineered society anyway, the question is, who will engineer it to the benefit of whom.

    Personal freedom, and the right to be a fool, are things that a well engineered society allows. Within bounds.

    The idea of attacking cancer by a massive data mining exercise is probably a very good one, as almost all other approaches have essentially failed. Only a very healthy society can afford the risk this approach represents, though. I sincerely wish Norway good luck with that.

  • by Tsingi (870990) <> on Friday February 03, 2012 @07:41AM (#38913399)

    I guess they have the system they deserve.

    They deserve to have health care just as much as you or I do. The government in the US no longer represents the people. That's a problem for all of us.

  • Re:Too early? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by biodata (1981610) on Friday February 03, 2012 @09:25AM (#38913851)
    Clever assembly can only bridge repeats shorter than the fragment lengths. Coverage is not enough, you need fragments longer than the longest repeat unit, however long the reads are. MiSeq are quoting paired end reads in the 250bp per end class now, so as long as you can get them to sequence both ends of a long enough fragment then, yes, coverage can solve it, but I think the bottleneck might be in getting the fragments long enough while still being able to pair the ends.

The trouble with the rat-race is that even if you win, you're still a rat. -- Lily Tomlin