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Are We Ready to Find Out?

As the Wall Street Journal and New York Times have both reported, Walgreens has decided to hold off on selling direct-to-consumer DNA testing kits until the FDA approves them. But Katherine Hobson of the WSJ's Health Blog says the issue isn't just whether Pathway Genomics can sell these kits without FDA approval or not, it's also about the larger issue of whether consumers are ready to know what's in their genetic code. "One of the big concerns about this test and direct-to-consumer genetic testing in general [is] giving people often-vague information about their risks for certain diseases might cause worry and distress, especially if there’s no sure way to reduce those risks," Hobson says. Some people disagree, however. Hobson quotes Thomas Goetz, an editor for Wired , who says those concerns echo the patronizing attitudes of decades past when doctors weren't always up front with patients about their diagnoses because they perceived their patients as unable to handle the truth. Goetz also cites a study in the New England Journal of Medicine which found that when patients found out about their genetic risk for Alzheimer's, it didn't "result in significant short-term psychological risks." Goetz says, "We don't need the FDA or docs as info gatekeepers."

The Scan

Not Yet a Permanent One

NPR says the lack of a permanent Food and Drug Administration commissioner has "flummoxed" public health officials.

Unfair Targeting

Technology Review writes that a new report says the US has been unfairly targeting Chinese and Chinese-American individuals in economic espionage cases.

Limited Rapid Testing

The New York Times wonders why rapid tests for COVID-19 are not widely available in the US.

Genome Research Papers on IPAFinder, Structural Variant Expression Effects, Single-Cell RNA-Seq Markers

In Genome Research this week: IPAFinder method to detect intronic polyadenylation, influence of structural variants on gene expression, and more.