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Should We Say Anything?

What should a researcher do if he or she finds something unexpected in the DNA of a human research participang during an experiment? That was one topic of the recent Personal Genomes meeting at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, says Nature News' Erika Check Hayden. What are the ethics of revealing "nasty surprises" to people, Hayden asks. As sequencing an increasing number of genomes becomes more common, this question will come up more and more, Hayden says. However, US federal law prohibits researchers from telling patients about mutations that might affect them until a CLIA-certified lab has double-checked the results, which most researchers don't do. "This means that patients often do not learn about their mutations until the studies are finally published, a restriction that is meant to ensure they are not misinformed by incomplete research," she adds. Some scientists are now arguing that research should always be done in a certified lab, so they can get information back to participants as quickly as possible. "But ethicists point out that although researchers and physicians may feel obliged to disclose genetic information, they must also consider other factors," Hayden says, including the cost to society should people be made aware of their mutations.

The Scan

LINE-1 Linked to Premature Aging Conditions

Researchers report in Science Translational Medicine that the accumulation of LINE-1 RNA contributes to premature aging conditions and that symptoms can be improved by targeting them.

Team Presents Cattle Genotype-Tissue Expression Atlas

Using RNA sequences representing thousands of cattle samples, researchers looked at relationships between cattle genotype and tissue expression in Nature Genetics.

Researchers Map Recombination in Khoe-San Population

With whole-genome sequences for dozens of individuals from the Nama population, researchers saw in Genome Biology fine-scale recombination patterns that clustered outside of other populations.

Myotonic Dystrophy Repeat Detected in Family Genome Sequencing Analysis

While sequencing individuals from a multi-generation family, researchers identified a myotonic dystrophy type 2-related short tandem repeat in the European Journal of Human Genetics.