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The Genome — a Pandora's Box?

In its fourth and last segment of its '$1,000 Genome' series, NPR's health blog, Shots, asks what people can expect to learn from their own genome sequence, and why they might not want to learn everything.

Beau Gunderson, a Silicon Valley startup employee, recently had his exome sequenced and found out that he did not inherit an Alzheimer's gene variants and shares some genes with Olympic sprinters, NPR's Rob Stein reports. But Gunderson still wonders what his genome could tell him about diseases he might get.

Others think that sequencing could open a Pandora's Box. "There are also people walking around out there who carry mutations that create an extraordinarily high probability that they will develop a horrendous, untreatable, unpreventable disease by age 50, 60 years old," says James Evans of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. "That isn't necessarily information that everybody wants."

Furthermore, there could be genetic discrimination for life and disability insurance, and in the future, thugs might plant someone's DNA at a crime scene.

But proponents argue the potential benefits of sequencing "far outweigh" any risks, and that people "just have a right to have their genome," Stein writes.

The Scan

Booster for At-Risk

The New York Times reports that the US Food and Drug Administration has authorized a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine for people 65 and older or at increased risk.

Preprints OK to Mention Again

Nature News reports the Australian Research Council has changed its new policy and now allows preprints to be cited in grant applications.

Hundreds of Millions More to Share

The US plans to purchase and donate 500 million additional SARS-CoV-2 vaccine doses, according to the Washington Post.

Nature Papers Examine Molecular Program Differences Influencing Neural Cells, Population History of Polynesia

In Nature this week: changes in molecular program during embryonic development leads to different neural cell types, and more.