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Fake People, Real Research

Some researchers are using synthetic patient data to test their theories, the Wall Street Journal reports.

For instance, it reports that researchers at Sheba Medical Center in Israel worked with MDClone to develop synthetic data — made by taking real data from electronic medical records and scrambling it — early on the COVID-19 pandemic to understand the virus. This, the Journal writes, enabled doctors there to better determine treatment approaches. Meanwhile in the US, researchers at Intermountain Healthcare have used synthetic data to create a preventative care program for kidney disease patients.

The Journal notes that researchers aren't relying solely on synthetic data, but are using those data sets to first test their hypotheses before turning to real patient data. Allan Tucker from Brunel University London who has used synthetic data tells it that the main advantage of synthetic data is the "large reduction in privacy risks." The Journal adds, though, that some privacy experts caution that anonymity cannot be assured.

The Scan

US Booster Eligibility Decision

The US CDC director recommends that people at high risk of developing COVID-19 due to their jobs also be eligible for COVID-19 boosters, in addition to those 65 years old and older or with underlying medical conditions.

Arizona Bill Before Judge

The Arizona Daily Star reports that a judge weighing whether a new Arizona law restricting abortion due to genetic conditions is a ban or a restriction.

Additional Genes

Wales is rolling out new genetic testing service for cancer patients, according to BBC News.

Science Papers Examine State of Human Genomic Research, Single-Cell Protein Quantification

In Science this week: a number of editorials and policy reports discuss advances in human genomic research, and more.