PSAT Reading Practice Test 38: Science
Questions 1-10 refer to the following information.
Two scientists analyze the impact of advances in genetic research.
The completion of the Human Genome Project in February 2001 marked a new era for
individualized patient medicine. With a complete genetic map of humans available to
scientists and researchers all over the world, new diagnostic tools, prevention methods, and
treatments for diseases are created on a daily basis. While many new genetic technologies are
05decades away from being introduced to the general public, there are still many other genetic
technologies in use today that are changing previously negative outcomes to positive ones for
The move from broad-spectrum interventions to individualized treatments based on a
patient's genetic map is a sign that the future of medicine is here. For example, 20 years ago,
10if a patient were diagnosed with breast cancer, she would be offered the routine treatment of
surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. While this treatment plan was successful for many,
there was still a very high percentage of disease relapse in patients. Treatment options for
breast cancer patients today have radically changed with the discovery of genetic variation
in cancers. While the previous medical professional theory was that breast cancer was the
15same in all patients, the finding of BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes revolutionized the way physicians
prevent and treat breast cancer in women. With a focused treatment plan such as
dietary changes, targeted chemotherapy, and general lifestyle changes, patients are experiencing
better outcomes. Testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes in family lines has also given
women the opportunity to know if they are susceptible to the disease, which can significantly
20decrease the rate of occurrence.
Individualized patient medicine is not limited to the prevention and treatment of cancer.
As genetic technologies continue to improve, parents can determine if they are a carrier of
a recessive gene that may be passed to their child or adults can prepare to tackle a degenerative
disease, such as Huntington's disease. For some, it is extremely helpful to know what
25medical trials they may face in the future so that they can make informed decisions about
early intervention options. While many treatment options are still in the trial phase, patients
receiving the treatment have not only seen an increase in life expectancy, but an increase in
quality of life during those years. This is a triumphant achievement in medicine, as just a few
years ago some patients, upon receiving a diagnosis, would be told that there were no treatment
30options even available. However, now physicians are able to provide targeted treatment
options based on a patient's genetic make-up. As genetic technologies continue to develop,
additional treatments will become available that will hopefully eradicate many prominent
Where do we draw the line with the advancement of genetic research? This is an important
35question to answer as new genetic research is performed on a daily basis and only some
regulations are in place to monitor the research on an international level. While many argue that
genetic research, thus far, has been positive, others have expressed concern that the
continued development of genetic research could lead to severe consequences for society.
The completion of the human genome sequence has helped researchers identify key
40components of what makes a human. While the identification of certain genes in the genome
has led to the advancement of treatment for prominent diseases, like cancer, other identified
genes have started the discussion of "designer babies." Since we now know what genes
-contribute to our hair, eye, and skin color, it is possible to create a baby that displays many
desired physical attributes. To some, this genetic alteration is harmless, but others believe
45it could cause irrevocable harm to nature. Medical professionals have expressed additional
concern with the unknown, long-term effects of deleting and inserting gene sequences as
this technology is only in the beginning stages. Due to many unknowns of this technology,
the United States government has placed a ban on germline manipulation until research can
confirm that the benefits outweigh the risks.
50Others worry about the possibility of genetic discrimination. As the genetic research community
continues to explore the human genome, there will be an increase in the identification
of different genes that contribute to diseases such as diabetes and mental illness. Some fear
that identification of such genes could lead to discrimination against individuals seeking
health insurance coverage or even a job. Finding a balance with genetic research will be
55vitally important as researchers navigate new discoveries, so that advancements will help
society, not harm it.