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About Personal Genomics


Direct-to-consumer genetic testing is an emerging, highly publicized industry, despite considerable skepticism among experts. Advances in sequencing and genomics have revealed some correlations between particular genetic sequences and certain diseases, physical characteristics, and behaviors, though these relationships are not perfectly understood. Nevertheless, entrepreneurs have seized on these correlations to sell tests that purport to indicate whether the customer has an increased risk of a disease or other characteristic. Similarly, associations of genetic sequences with specific geographical locations have led to commercial “ancestry tests.”

Evaluating the claims of these companies is difficult, since their technologies are typically kept private and there is minimal oversight. Medical tests are supposed to be supervised by a physician, and testing laboratories need to be licensed. California has worked with Navigenics and 23andMe, two of the best-known companies, to ensure that they are operating legally in the state, but these Internet-based businesses raise regulatory concerns that cross state boundaries.

This industry may contribute to an over-emphasis on genes as determinants, possibly at the expense of environmental, economic and social considerations. A further concern is the possible use of DNA databases developed by private companies, whose business plans include profiting from the compiled data. Finally, although the companies insist that they will respect the privacy of their customers, there is no effective guarantee.



Obama vs. Trump: 5 ways they clash — or don’t — on health and scienceby Dylan ScottSTATJanuary 9th, 2017While Trump might play some wild cards in medicine, science, and public health, there may be some surprising continuity with President Obama’s administration.
How Gene Editing Could Ruin Human Evolution[cites CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by Jim KozubekTimeJanuary 9th, 2017There are no superior genes. Genes have a long and layered history, and they often have three or four unrelated functions, which balance against each other under selection.
Designer babies: an ethical horror waiting to happen?by Philip BallThe Guardian January 8th, 2017A perfectly feasible 10-20% improvement in health via PGD, added to the comparable advantage that wealth already brings, could lead to a widening of the health gap between rich and poor, both within a society and between nations.
China’s $9 billion effort to beat the U.S. in genetic testing[cites CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by Ylan Q. MuiWashington PostDecember 30th, 2016Chinese investors — both private and government-supported — are backing American start-ups and funding promising new companies at home.
Will the Alt-Right Promote a New Kind of Racist Genetics?by Sarah ZhangThe AtlanticDecember 29th, 2016The genomic revolution has led to easy sequencing and cheap "ancestry" tests. White nationalists are paying attention.
Eugenics warningby Alexandra Minna SternIssues in Science and TechnologyDecember 20th, 2016The eugenic past can be a useful compass when considering present and future uses of genetic technologies.
Bioterrorism And Gene Editing: Can Crispr Tool Be Used As Biological Weapon In War?by Himanshu GoenkaIB TimesDecember 14th, 2016Given its broad distribution, low cost, and accelerated pace of development, deliberate or unintentional misuse of gene editing might have far-reaching economic and national security implications.
Biopolitical News of 2016by Pete Shanks, Leah Lowthorp & Marcy DarnovskyBiopolitical TimesDecember 13th, 2016We highlight 2016’s trends in and top news stories about human biotech developments.
Why the hype around medical genetics is a public enemyby Nathaniel ComfortAeonDecember 12th, 2016The progress of science is the steady realisation of how little we actually know. The more we, the public, understand that, the more we will see through the hype.
NY senator from LI introduces ‘familial DNA’ legislationby Chau LamNewsdayDecember 9th, 2016Critics of familial DNA searches point to high rates of false positives, invasion of privacy, and racial disparities.
Winners and losers of the 21st Century Cures Actby Sheila KaplanSTATDecember 5th, 2016Despite overwhelming bipartisan support, Elizabeth Warren says the bill was "hijacked" by Big Pharma to water down safety requirements for new drugs and devices.
UK doctors to seek permission to create baby with DNA from three people by Ian SampleThe GuardianNovember 30th, 2016A scientific review concluded that the procedure should be approved for "cautious clinical use" when children are at risk of inheriting specific genetic diseases.
Review of Blame: A Novelby Abby Lippman, Biopolitical Times guest contributorNovember 28th, 2016Blame is especially important for those unfamiliar with the range of ethical, social, legal, and political issues raised by applications of what is learned in a lab. While a work of fiction, it is definitely not science-fiction
Do Your Family Members Have a Right to Your Genetic Code?by Emily MullinMIT Technology ReviewNovember 22nd, 2016When a woman gets her genome sequenced, questions about privacy arise for her identical twin sister.
The Field of Synthetic Biology Runs on Speculative Fictionby Jason KoeblerVICE MotherboardNovember 18th, 2016As technology advances and draws us closer to unknown dimensions that may parallel sci-fi worlds, conversations must be inclusive of voices beyond science and industry.
DNA-editing breakthrough could fix 'broken genes' in the brain, delay ageing and cure incurable diseasesby Ian JohnstonThe Independent [UK]November 16th, 2016The technique allows DNA changes that have not previously been possible, modifying the genes of non-dividing cells in a living animal.
CRISPR gene-editing tested in a person for the first timeby David CyranoskiNature NewsNovember 15th, 2016A clinical trial in China used cells edited with CRISPR-Cas9 to treat a patient with lung cancer. Spectators anticipate a biomedical duel with US.
San Diego Scientists Help Develop New Twist On In Vitro Fertilizationby David WagnerKPBSNovember 10th, 2016The patent holder for a related "3-person IVF" technique reports new work with "polar body genome transfer." Some experts say none of these approaches have been proven safe.
Why We Need to Rethink Ethnicity-Based Genetic Testingby Shivani NazarethUS News & World ReportNovember 7th, 2016The problem with genetic tests that assume people exist in neat race and ethnicity categories is that it simply is not an accurate reflection of their ancestry.
Sorry, that DNA test doesn't make you indigenousby The 180 with Jim BrownCBC RadioNovember 6th, 2016Belonging to a particular community can mean sharing beliefs, cultural practice, even official citizenship. But it's not decided by genetic material.
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