Abstract Background Genetic testing in inherited disease has traditionally relied upon recognition of the presenting clinical syndrome and targeted analysis of genes known to be linked to that syndrome. Consequently, many patients with genetic syndromes remain without a specific diagnosis. Areas of agreement New 'next-generation' sequencing (NGS) techniques permit simultaneous sequencing of enormous amounts of DNA. A slew of research publications have recently demonstrated the tremendous power of these technologies in increasing understanding of human genetic disease. Areas of controversy These approaches are likely to be increasingly employed in routine diagnostic practice, but the scale of the genetic information yielded about individuals means that caution must be exercised to avoid net harm in this setting. Areas timely for developing research Use of NGS in a research setting will increasingly have a major but indirect beneficial impact on clinical practice. However, important technical, ethical and social challenges need to be addressed through informed professional and public dialogue before it finds its mature niche as a direct tool in the clinical diagnostic armoury. PMID: 21705347 [PubMed -as supplied by publisher]
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