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More Data, Please

To tease out disease patterns, particularly for cancers, Mount Sinai's Eric Schadt tells Wired that data from many individuals is required — the more data, the more accurate any models are.

But as Wired notes, data gathering takes some finesse as people want to be assured of their privacy and that their health and genetic information will be shared among researchers, rather than kept to seek a profit. Plus, the scale of the amount of data needed has yet to be reached.

To try to achieve this, Schadt has started a genetic data company called Sema4 through which he plans to acquire genetic testing companies and build up a database of millions of genomes, Wired reports. It adds that the database is to be searchable by physicians to help them diagnose patients — it's to be free for academic medical centers and nonprofit researchers — and that pharmaceutical companies would pay for access to find patients for clinical trials.

"Can we do better for human well-being if information is more broadly accessible, where you're leveraging the mindshare of the entire planet to evolve the models of disease?" Schadt says at Wired. "Absolutely."

The Scan

Cancer Survival Linked to Mutational Burden in Pan-Cancer Analysis

A pan-cancer paper appearing in JCO Precision Oncology suggests tumor mutation patterns provide clues for predicting cancer survival that are independent of other prognostic factors.

Australian Survey Points to Public Support for Genetic Risk Disclosure in Relatives of At-Risk Individuals

A survey in the European Journal of Human Genetics suggests most adult Australians are in favor of finding out if a relative tests positive for a medically actionable genetic variant.

Study Links Evolution of Stony Coral Skeleton to Bicarbonate Transporter Gene

A PNAS paper focuses on a skeleton-related bicarbonate transporter gene introduced to stony coral ancestors by tandem duplication.

Hormone-Based Gene Therapy to Sterilize Domestic Cat

A new paper in Nature Communication suggests that gene therapy could be a safer alternative to spaying domestic cats.