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Benefits and Harms

In a new report, the Nuffield Council on Bioethics in the UK takes a look at personal genetic profiling. Benefits of genetic testing the council names include access to information, the possibility of early intervention, and more personal control, while the harms include the costs of a test that may give indefinite information and the cost of having that information, such as when nothing can be done about a reported risk or when the information is difficult to interpret or inaccurate. The report also discusses the clinical validity and utility of the tests as well as the psychological impact. The council concludes that "although personal genetic profiling for disease susceptibility to common multifactorial conditions has a number of benefits and offers people the freedom to access information about themselves ... they often offer low clinical validity and utility." The council recommends that government authorities should investigate clinical claims made by testing companies and provide consumers information about genetic testing, but does not recommend preventing people from buying the tests.

"Commercial genetic profiling services may seem to be providing more choice to consumers, but the test results can be unreliable and difficult to interpret and they are often offered to people with little or no genetic counselling or support," says Christopher Hood, chair of group that produced the report, according to Scientific Blogging.

The Scan

NFTs for Genome Sharing

Nature News writes that non-fungible tokens could be a way for people to profit from sharing genomic data.

Wastewater Warning System

Time magazine writes that cities and college campuses are monitoring sewage for SARS-CoV-2, an approach officials hope lasts beyond COVID-19.

Networks to Boost Surveillance

Scientific American writes that new organizations and networks aim to improve the ability of developing countries to conduct SARS-CoV-2 genomic surveillance.

Genome Biology Papers on Gastric Cancer Epimutations, BUTTERFLY, GUNC Tool

In Genome Biology this week: recurrent epigenetic mutations in gastric cancer, correction tool for unique molecular identifier-based assays, and more.