Researchers urge ethics guidelines for human-genome research

Mar 26, 2008

A global team of legal, scientific and ethics experts have put forward eight key recommendations to establish much needed guidelines for conducting human-genome sequencing research.

Timothy Caulfield, professor and research director of the Health Law Institute at the University of Alberta in Canada, led a consensus workshop to develop rigorous guideline recommendations for research ethics boards. The results appear in the current issue of PLOS Biology (March 2008).

Researchers met to develop these recommendations because national and international funding initiatives have substantially increased whole-gene research activities, and media coverage of both the science and the emerging commercial offerings related to human-genome research has heightened public awareness and interest in personal genomics, says Caulfield.

“Yes, these are early days in the field of human-genome research, but research ethics guidance is needed immediately,” said Caulfield. “With how fast this research is growing, it is necessary that we develop carefully considered consensus guidelines to ensure ethical research practices are defined for all.”

Some key recommendations of the paper include the right for participants to withdraw consent (which includes the destruction of tissue samples and written information); the issues associated with participants’ family members and relevant groups; and the means of obtaining clear consent from participants for possible future use of their genes.

“As technology continues to advance, whole-genome research activities seem likely to increase and expand,” says Caulfield. “As the pace of this research intensifies, we need to continue to explore the ethical, legal and social implications of this rapidly evolving field.”

The researchers note that the policy recommendations covered in the report are not the only issues that need to be considered. Commercialization, patenting, benefit sharing and the possibility of genetic discrimination are among other topics that warrant discussion in the future.

Source: University of Alberta

Explore further: Cellular sentinel prevents cell division when the right machinery is not in place

Related Stories

Research shows 'mulch fungus' causes turfgrass disease

9 hours ago

Inadvertently continuing a line of study they conducted about 15 years ago, a team of Penn State researchers recently discovered the causal agent for an emerging turfgrass disease affecting golf courses around ...

Study on pesticides in lab rat feed causes a stir

11 hours ago

French scientists published evidence Thursday of pesticide contamination of lab rat feed which they said discredited historic toxicity studies, though commentators questioned the analysis.

Experiments open window on landscape formation

11 hours ago

University of Oregon geologists have seen ridges and valleys form in real time and—even though the work was a fast-forwarded operation done in a laboratory setting—they now have an idea of how climate ...

To conduct, or to insulate? That is the question

11 hours ago

A new study has discovered mysterious behaviour of a material that acts like an insulator in certain measurements, but simultaneously acts like a conductor in others. In an insulator, electrons are largely stuck in one place, ...

Recommended for you

Study shows grey squirrels are quick learners

4 hours ago

They may be viewed by some as an invasive species or a commonplace pest of public parks, but a new study from the University of Exeter has shown that grey squirrels are actually quick learners capable of ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.