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A Little Regulation Never Hurt Anybody

Mike the Mad Biologist says the concern over regulation of direct-to-consumer genetic tests has been "overblown," and that FDA is doing the right thing in seeking to regulate them. Mike considers a recent article in the Huffington Post, which implies that FDA's move is solely predicated on the idea that patients can't "handle the truth," and that the information obtained from DTC tests is "dangerous" without a doctor's guidance. But Mike says it's not as simple as that. People aren't stupid, he says, but he does "see serious potential for bad outcomes; public health workers, though hard-earned experience, have learned that even seemingly simple things can go very wrong." Many people are misinformed about health ("Remember all the parents who didn't want their kids to get a flu shot?" Mike asks), and they have a tendency to hear only certain things, which means they could miss a lot of relevant information from a genetic test. Also, he adds, even physicians have more to learn. Not everyone is a geneticist, and MDs are going to need more training and reading materials so they can explain the relevant information to their patients, he suggests. FDA regulates all sorts of diagnostics, the blogger says, so why should this be any different? "I can see some downsides without regulation, and it doesn't hurt to examine if and what regulation would improve this technology for patients and doctors," he adds.

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.