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Navajo Nation Weighs New Gene Testing Policy

The Navajo Nation is weighing altering its stance on genetic testing, Nature News reports.

The Native American tribe banned genetic testing in the early 2000s to protect members' privacy and maintain control over their DNA data, Nature News says. It adds that the Nation was also seeking to avoid an incident like the one that affected the Havasupai tribe in which researchers from Arizona State University collected genetic material from members to examine the prevalence of diabetes, but also used the samples in studies of schizophrenia, ancestry, and more without their knowledge.

But Nature News reports that the Navajo Nation is working on developing a new policy that would allow it to approve genetic research studies. It adds that part of the push to develop a new policy is because the Navajo Nation is opening a new cancer treatment center and genetic testing there could help guide patients' treatments.

Vanderbilt University bioethicist Ellen Clayton tells Nature News that whatever policy the Navajo Nation adopts is likely to shape those of other Native American groups.

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