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Metabolite Trail

People leave a trail of metabolites behind them and researchers are increasingly able to identify them, the Economist writes, adding that these metabolites could be used to uncover personal information about people.

It notes that only recently have researchers been able to sample metabolites from more sources than blood or urine — they can now analyze sweat, saliva, and dental plaque — and databases for identifying metabolites based on their GC/MS profiles have improved. Such data, the Economist says, could reveal a lot about people: how much they exercise, what they eat, or if they take any drugs or medications.

While there are protections in the US barring employers or health insurers from using genetic information, the Economist notes there are no such protections for metabolic data and, further, that others like law enforcement could be interested in what such tests might reveal. 

"The day is coming soon," the University of Oklahoma's Cecil Lewis tells it, "when it will be possible to swab a person's desk, steering wheel, or phone and determine a wide range of incredibly private things about them."

The Scan

Close Panel Vote on Califf Nomination

The New York Times reports there was a close committee vote to advance the nomination of Robert Califf to lead the US Food and Drug Administration to the full Senate.

Task Force Reports on Scientific Integrity

Nature News writes that that a new task force report recommends that the US establish a cross-agency scientific integrity council.

Across the Hall

Genetic testing, closed-circuit cameras, and more show how a traveler, without any contact, infected others at a New Zealand quarantine facility, CNN reports.

Science Paper Examines Influence of Chromatin Modifications on Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

In Science this week: genes regulating chromatin modification may contribute to OCD risk.