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© Jorg Greuel;

Protective genetic variants – a balanced view of genetic testing results

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    August 2017

    This report considers the evolution and implications of research in this field and how geonomics could play a critical role in Life insurance underwriting. 

    Using several examples, this report shows how protective genetic variants can function to prevent disease and maintain overall health. According to this study these genetic variants could reliably be used to help stratify individuals at all levels of disease risk into more accurate risk categories. There are two blockers from realizing this.

    • The guidelines for the classification of genetic variants, as classified by the American College of Medical Genetics and Geonomics, do not account for protective variants and likely protective variants. 

    • U.S Legislation like the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) prohibits the availability and use of genetic information by those selling insurance products. 

    What’s clear from all the research mentioned in this paper is that there is a lot we still don’t know. How do we characterize the amount of risk reduction associated with different protective variants? How far are we from a future where genetic testing results indicate “preferred” mortality risks as well as standard and substandard mortality risks? 

    Fundamentally, the concept of the relationship of genetic variants to mortality risk is not a complete representation, as it doesn’t address the significance of genetic variants that is associated with the decreased risk of disease.    

    Contact the Author Dr. Robert Lund, Vice President & Medical Director, Munich Re, US (Life)

    Learn more about genetic variants that have the potential to protect against disease and how they could potentially change the Life insurance underwriting.