Wednesday 24 January 2018

Scientists publish DNA results to encourage worldwide databases

Laura Roberts

A group of 12 genetics scientists will publish the results of DNA tests today to encourage people to make their own information available for scientific research.

The "DNA Dozen" want to allay fears amongst the public that information about their genes should not be widely shared on the grounds that it is private and sensitive.

The Genome Unzipped project intends to explain what genetic code can and cannot reveal about an individual's health.

The 11 British-based scientists and one American genetics lawyer want to encourage the creation of open-access DNA databases which would make it easier to research and accelerate discoveries about genetics and health.

Daniel MacArthur, a geneticist leading the project, said: "We hope that by sharing our experiences and publishing our data, people will see the genome in a clearer light. We want to show that genetic information need not be frightening and that the risks of publishing data can be managed."

DNA databases currently are restricted from passing on information to scientists by strict confidentiality agreements.

However, critics of the initiative say it minimises the risk posed by publishing the contents of genetic material online.

Helen Wallace, of GeneWatch UK, told The Times: "Your DNA contains very personal information about you, and in the longer term we can't be certain this won't be used by insurance companies. I don't think scientists should be encouraging this."

The scientists' DNA results will be posted on the website

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