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Time to Act

A UK government report urges the development of regulations to prevent genomic technologies from being used in ways that cause harm, the Guardian reports.

The Genomics Beyond Health report from the Government Office for Science examined possible future ways in which genomic tools could be applied outside the clinic, such as in employment, education, and sports. Gene-editing tools could, in theory, be used to enhance athletic performance, while genetic testing could help tailor educational interventions for students with learning disabilities. Many of the scenarios the report describes raise ethical and regulatory questions.

"We are still in the infancy of understanding the complexity of genomic data but this is changing very rapidly," Patrick Vallance, the government Chief Scientific Advisor, says in a statement. "Now is the time to consider what might be possible, and what actions government and the public could take to ensure the widespread application of genomics can occur in a way that protects and benefits us all."

The report highlights some areas for policymakers to consider, including overarching regulatory framework for genomic databases in the UK; guidance on when non-health genomic tests should be used and how they should be interpreted; and increased public dialogue regarding current and future uses of genomics.