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: Obama recommends extended wilderness zone in Alaska

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Millennials use tech tools to jump into investing

7 minutes ago

It's the Facebookification of financial investing. From social networking platforms that allow young investors to follow each other's stock-picking mojo, to websites for first-timers hungry for a piece of the Silicon Valley ...

Pumas in populated areas kill more and eat less

1 hour ago

Female pumas in areas with a high density of housing kill more deer but eat less of the carcasses than those in areas with little housing, finds a study in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Gold 'nano-drills'

1 hour ago

Spherical gold particles are able to 'drill' a nano-diameter tunnel in ceramic material when heated. This is an easy and attractive way to equip chips with nanopores for DNA analysis, for example. Nanotechnologists ...

Recommended for you

Obama recommends extended wilderness zone in Alaska

14 hours ago

US President Barack Obama said Sunday he would recommend a large swath of Alaska be designated as wilderness, the highest level of federal protection, in a move likely to anger oil proponents.

Uganda seizes massive ivory and pangolin haul

16 hours ago

Ugandan wildlife officers have seized a huge haul of elephant ivory and pangolin scales, representing the deaths of hundreds of endangered animals, police said Sunday.

The elephant poaching business in numbers

23 hours ago

From the pittance paid to local poachers to a multi-billion dollar industry, here are some of the key numbers related to Africa's endangered elephants:

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.