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April 15, 2005

Genographic Project The

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Genetics in the News

Genographic Project The National Geographic Society and IBM pick up where the Human Genome Diversity Project left off. More from Science.

Can researchers see race in the genome?
The first in a two-part series on race, biology, and medicine.

DNA Tells Students They Aren't Who They Thought DNA testing, taken as part of a class at Pennsylvania State University, to determine genetic ancestry, have surprising results for some students.

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April 11, 2005

Will DNA profiling fuel prejudice? In 10 years, the England and Wales National DNA Database (NDNAD) - the largest in the world - has matched nearly 600,000 suspects to crimes. This extraordinary success has been possible because police have unprecedented powers to retain samples from suspects, and other countries are following suit. But some experts argue that NDNAD's size and power mean it poses a serious threat to civil liberties.

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April 07, 2005

This Week in CGREAL

Labs Turn DNA Into Personal Health Forecasts Companies such as Genelex are pushing medical science into territory that was once the realm of gods and horoscope writers. They are making predictions about what someone's health might be in five, 10, 20 or more years. Other testing facilities around the country offer genetic assessments of what they claim is people's future propensity towards diabetes, liver disease, blood clots, dementia -- even alcoholism and gambling.

WSJ.com - Toddlers' Implants Bring Upheaval To Deaf Education Supporters of the venerable culture built up by deaf people believe deaf children should get a strong grounding in American Sign Language so they can participate fully in that culture when they grow up. But others -- including some deaf kids' parents who can hear -- want more emphasis on hearing and speaking English to prepare the children for life in the mainstream world. Now the implants are boosting their cause.

Parents warned over gene testsIn a report published today, the Human Genetics Commission says that the genetic profiling of all newborn babies is feasible but is premature and unlikely to be cost-effective for the NHS. But private companies might well offer such a service within the next few years. If so, parents should be cautious.

Perfection's CurseAndrew Niccol's futuristic thriller Gattaca presents us with a reflection of our world, a chilling and disturbing reminder of the dangers of absolute dependence on technology.

Davis/Waxman Letters on Steroid-Testing Policies to Major Athletic Associations (pdf) "Attached are letters sent today by Chairman Tom Davis and Ranking Member Henry A. Waxman to the heads of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, National Basketball Association, National Hockey League, Major League Soccer, U.S. Soccer Federation, U.S. Tennis Association, USA Track & Field, and USA Cycling. The letters seek information about the steroid-testing policies of the various organizations."

UN to set up science advisory mechanism
Kofi Annan, the secretary-general of the United Nations, has announced plans to create a high-level advisory panel to help integrate science and technology into the development efforts of all the member organisations of the UN system. Annan has also announced that he is to appoint a scientific advisor to provide "strategic forward-looking" scientific advice on policy matters, with responsibility for "mobilising scientific and technological expertise within the United Nations system and from the broader scientific and academic community".

Pharmaceuticals and the Death of Art (op-ed) "One of the leading causes of artistic and creative decline is the modern view of mental illness, and the treatment methods used to prevent or minimize it. If one views creativity as a form of madness (or deviance), then the modern view that all forms of psychopathology must be eradicated will be detrimental to societies body of great artistic works ... Through our push for conformity, and so-called mental fitness, we lose something more socially important, great works of creativity, the baring of human soul, the sense of awe that genius can bring."

Divided Committee Urges Less Restriction on Embryo Research The United Kingdom has some of the least restrictive rules in Europe governing research on human embryos. But in a wide-ranging and controversial report* issued last week, the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee argues that they should be relaxed even further: The report says the government should consider lifting the current absolute ban on research involving genetic modification of human embryos and the creation of chimeric human-animal embryos, and that it should even reopen debate on human reproductive cloning.

Genes for alcohol consumption identified “Our study suggests that there’s a genetic basis to certain kinds of behaviour, including alcohol consumption, which may be important in influencing whether people are at an increased risk of alcohol dependence."

Rugby team converts to give gene tests a try (Nature)An Australian rugby league team claims it has gained a competitive edge over its rivals by using genetic tests to tailor its players' training programmes. This move marks the beginning of more widespread use of genetics in sport, according to geneticists and legal experts.

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This Week in CGREAL

-Welcome to Paola Ortiz! She joins CGREAL today as a research assistant. She has a background in evolutionary biology and previously worked in the Case epidemiology department. She can be reached at paola.ortiz@case.edu in the CGREAL lab.

-Maxwell Mehlman has a new article in the latest issue (which focuses on genetic enhancement) of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal titled "Genetic Enhancement: Plan Now to Act Later".

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This week in CGREAL

Human subject protections in genetic research.
Genet Test. 2004; 8(2): 209-13
Coffey MJ, Ross L

The Certificate of Confidentiality (COC) is a voluntary tool to protect researchers from being compelled to release identifying information about their subjects. Institutional review board (IRB) review and informed consent (IC) procedures are mandatory tools to protect human subjects. Although many studies reveal poor documentation of IRB and IC procurement, most published research undergoes IRB review and has appropriate IC procedures. There are no empirical data about the use of COCs. We examined the procurement and documentation of all these human subject protections in the genetics literature. A total of 112 (55%) articles documented IRB review, 108 (53%) document IC, and 82 (41%) documented both. None documented the procurement of a COC. In this era of public scrutiny of medical research, we recommend greater familiarity with and documentation of all human subject protections.

Genetic privacy, abandonment, and DNA dragnets: Is Fourth Amendment jurisprudence adequate
Hastings Cent Rep, Vol. 35, No. 1. (b 2005), pp. 21-23.
by Fernandez HK

US exceptionalism comes to research ethics.
Lancet, Vol. 365, No. 9465. (April 2005), pp. 1117-1119.
by Lurie P, Greco DB

UK insurers postpone using predictive genetic testing until 2011.
BMJ, Vol. 330, No. 7492. (19 March 2005)
by Mayor S

Bioethics in Scientific Research: Conflicts between Subject's Equitable Access to Participate in Research and Current Regulations.
J Nutr, Vol. 135, No. 4. (April 2005), pp. 916-917.
by Ferris AM, Marquis GS

Genetic modification of preimplantation embryos: toward adequate human research policies.
Milbank Q, Vol. 82, No. 1. (2004), pp. 195-214.
by Dresser R

A more child-like science
New Atlantis. 2004; 4: 23-31
Talbott S

"The dilemma remains: How do we bring the researcher’s language of fact and control into dialogue with the parent’s language of ethics and purpose? ... The idea of any such convergence may seem outrageous. And yet, when the scientist offers the parent a menu of options for obtaining “better children,” it is he himself who puts the questions of meaning, value, and purpose on the table."

The legacy of Nazi medicine
New Atlantis. 2004; 5: 54-60
Schaefer N

"What we are discovering in our own time is that nations built on the principles of individual rights and human equality may have their own reasons for pursuing eugenics—a “soft eugenics” of personal choice, not a totalitarian eugenics of racial purity and mass slaughter. In America, parents are free to choose “fit” children and abort the “unfit,” and many defenders of equality seem to believe that we should use our genetic knowledge to ensure that our offspring have the “best genetic endowments.” While it is perverse to compare our own baby-making practices to the German programs of sterilization and euthanasia, the exhibit could not have come at a better time"

Genetic testing for breast and ovarian cancer susceptibility: evaluating direct-to-consumer marketing--Atlanta, Denver, Raleigh-Durham, and Seattle, 2003
MMWR Morb.Mortal.Wkly.Rep., 2004, 53, 27, 603-606

Talking About a Revolution: Hidden RNA May Fix Mutant Genes
Science, Vol 307, Issue 5717, 1852-1853, 25 March 2005

In the 24 March issue of Nature, Susan Lolle and Robert Pruitt report that in this weed, gene inheritance can somehow skip generations: Plants sometimes end up with their grandparents' good copy of a gene instead of the mutant ones belonging to their parents. The researchers put forth the radical proposal that plants contain an inheritable cache of RNA that can briefly reverse evolution, undoing mutations and restoring a gene to its former glory.

Managing familial risk in genetic testing.
Genet Test. 2004; 8(3): 356-9
Taub S, Morin K, Spillman MA, Sade RM, Riddick FA,

Increasing numbers of people are seeking genetic testing and uncovering information that directly concerns their biological relatives as well as themselves. This familial quality of genetic information raises ethical quandaries for physicians, particularly related to their duty of confidentiality. The AMA Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs examines the informed consent process in the specific context of genetic testing, giving particular consideration to the handling of information that has consequences for biological relatives. Furthermore, it addresses the question of whether physicians' obligation to warn biological relatives ever should override the obligation to protect patient confidentiality.

Research protocols--lessons from ethical review.
S Afr Med J. 2005 Feb; 95(2): 107-8
Jelsma J, Singh S

Nursing and Genetics: Applying the American Nurses Association's Code of Ethics.
J Prof Nurs. 2005 Mar-Apr; 21(2): 103-13
Dugas R

A professional code of ethics is essential for behaviors to be reinforced in any discipline. The American Nurses Association (ANA) has established a code of ethics for nurses to use as a framework for making ethical decisions with all aspects of health care delivered to the public. With the explosion of genetic discoveries, nurses and clients are facing new ethical dilemmas. It is important for nurses to understand how to use the ANA Code of Ethics when faced with the many complexities of ethical issues involving genetics and health care. This article illustrates how the ANA Code of Ethics can be applied in nursing practice to establish professional behaviors related to ethical issues and genetics.

Genetics and health inequalities: hypotheses and controversies.
J Epidemiol Community Health. 2005 Apr; 59(4): 268-73
Mackenbach JP

This article reviews the current understanding of the explanation of socioeconomic inequalities in health in industrialised countries and then tries to determine where genetic factors could fit into explanatory schemes. It focuses on the explanation of socioeconomic inequalities in frequency of the main health problems of middle and old age.

Second thoughts: how human cloning can promote human dignity.
Valparaiso Univ Law Rev. 2000; 35(1): 1-38
Wright RG

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