The publication in 2001 of the results of the “Human Genome Project” marked a before and after in the history of medicine (see HERE). However, progress in understanding the non-genetic factors of diseases, a field of growing biomedical interest, is becoming more difficult. This set of non-genetic factors is called the exposome, a term coined in 2005. The CDC definition is the great interest to understand the relevance of this concept. In CDC site says, “Success in mapping the human genome has fostered the complementary concept of the “exposome”. The exposome can be defined as the measure of all the exposures of an individual in a lifetime and how those exposures relate to health. An individual’s exposure begins before birth and includes insults from environmental and occupational sources. Understanding how exposures from our environment, diet, lifestyle, etc. interact with our own unique characteristics such as genetics, physiology, and epigenetics impact our health is how the exposome will be articulated”.
Genome studies limitations in this field
CDC also approaches the limitations of genome studies in determining the causes of diseases, “One of the promises of the human genome project was that it could revolutionize our understanding of the underlying causes of disease and aid in the development of preventions and cures for more diseases. Unfortunately, genetics has been found to account for only about 10% of diseases, and the remaining causes appear to be from environmental causes. So to understand the causes and eventually the prevention of disease, environmental causes need to be studied.” The study of the exposome appears to be more complex than that of the genome, as it includes a large number of human and environmental factors and could have ethical implications.
Exposome decipherment in humans could have bioethical problems
In this respect, the aforementioned article says “One important aspect of the exposome will be adherence to strict ethical principles as the exposome is deciphered. This will be paramount to ensure that the rights of individuals are not compromised when determining exposures and the relationship to their health.” Read CDC’s article Exposome and Exposomics.