Human Genetics Society of Australasia Position Statement: Use of Polygenic Scores in Clinical Practice and Population Health

Twin Res Hum Genet. 2023 Feb;26(1):40-48. doi: 10.1017/thg.2023.10. Epub 2023 Mar 23.

Abstract

Considerable progress continues to be made with regards to the value and use of disease associated polygenic scores (PGS). PGS aim to capture a person's genetic liability to a condition, disease, or a trait, combining information across many risk variants and incorporating their effect sizes. They are already available for clinicians and consumers to order in Australasia. However, debate is ongoing over the readiness of this information for integration into clinical practice and population health. This position statement provides the viewpoint of the Human Genetics Society of Australasia (HGSA) regarding the clinical application of disease-associated PGS in both individual patients and population health. The statement details how PGS are calculated, highlights their breadth of possible application, and examines their current challenges and limitations. We consider fundamental lessons from Mendelian genetics and their continuing relevance to PGS, while also acknowledging the distinct elements of PGS. Use of PGS in practice should be evidence based, and the evidence for the associated benefit, while rapidly emerging, remains limited. Given that clinicians and consumers can already order PGS, their current limitations and key issues warrant consideration. PGS can be developed for most complex conditions and traits and can be used across multiple clinical settings and for population health. The HGSA's view is that further evaluation, including regulatory, implementation and health system evaluation are required before PGS can be routinely implemented in the Australasian healthcare system.

Keywords: PGS; genetics; genomics; polygenic risk; risk stratification.

MeSH terms

  • Australasia / epidemiology
  • Human Genetics
  • Humans
  • Multifactorial Inheritance* / genetics
  • Population Health*