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All They Are Cracked Up to Be?

The US President's Council on Bioethics recently issued a white paper on genetic screening of newborns that says broad genetic testing, particularly for diseases that have no treatment, does more harm than good -- though some council members disagree. "Forestalling knowledge strikes us as a blatantly anti-intellectual fear of knowledge," write Floyd Bloom and Michael Gazzaniga in a statement at the end of the report. At Science Progress, Rick Weiss tries to find middle ground. He writes: "The routine inclusion of at least some diseases for which the benefits of early diagnosis are not in hand but are under development, and may come to fruition faster with better data."

In the UK, genetic tests are currently subject to little regulation, though there are calls for that to change. In the Guardian, James Randerson recounts having his DNA analyzed and then becoming dubious of the results after consulting with scientists outside the company. A related blog post by Stuart Hogarth argues that private-sector genetic tests need to come out of their "'regulatory abyss' -- not my words, but those of a French government official describing the regulations that are supposed to govern clinical tests in the European Union," he says. He adds that "robust, independent evaluation of well-developed clinical evidence is our best hope if we are to ensure public trust in the new wave of genetic tests for common diseases."


The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.