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My Genome! No, Mine!

At FuturePundit, Randall Parker asks, if you have a right to "genetic privacy," and you don't want your genetic sequence published on the Web, would your identical twin have the right to disregard your wishes, or could you stop him from releasing the information?

Meanwhile Gene Expression's Razib Khan says this isn't a question that applies only to twins. People share about 50 percent of their genetic information with their parents or siblings, and even some percentage of their DNA with cousins or other relatives, Khan says. "If I just released my raw sequence by uploading it somewhere I would implicitly 'expose' to a non-trivial degree dozens of people (many without their knowledge)," he adds. But the risk involved is very low, he says. In theory, insurance companies could data-mine the Web for genetic information and then cross-reference it to find family members of the people who released their information in order to engage in "familial profiling," but "this seems absurd," Khan says. In an age where information is free-flowing, he adds, the idea of "privacy" needs to be "revisited."

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.