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{bio,medical} informatics

Friday, May 11, 2001

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find related articles. powered by google. BioMedNet "Failure of integrity" over data protection threatens disease monitoring
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"Guidelines on patient confidentiality could undermine medical research, with lethal consequences, said one of the world's leading epidemiologists today. "By making [patient] records anonymous, so even bona fide medical researchers cannot access them, [the guidelines] will cause many deaths," insisted Richard Peto, co-director of the Clinical Trial Service Unit and Epidemiological Studies Unit at the University of Oxford. "It's not beneficial to anyone.""

"Peto was highlighting concern about the threat to the UK's patient registries, which monitor disease, from heart conditions to cancer. The registries link identifiable data from numerous sources, and feed the information to researchers."
redux [05.26.00]
find related articles. powered by google. British Medical Journal Genetic epidemiology
"Research in disease aetiology has shifted towards investigating genetic causes, powered by the human genome project. Successful identification of genes for monogenic disease has led to interest in investigating the genetic component of diseases that are often termed complex, that is, they are known to aggregate in families but do not segregate in a mendelian fashion. Genetic epidemiology has permitted identification of genes affecting people's susceptibility to disease, although progress has been much slower than many people expected. While the role of genetic factors in diseases such as hypertension, asthma, and depression is being intensively studied, family studies and the large geographical and temporal variation in the occurrence of many diseases indicate a major role of the environment. Thus, it is necessary to consider findings about susceptibility genes in the context of a population and evaluate the role of genetic factors in relation to other aetiological factors. This article discusses some approaches used to resolve the genetic architecture of disease and to study the relation of genes to environmental factors in the population. "

redux [06.15.00]
find related articles. powered by google. New England Journal Of Medicine Rules for Research on Human Genetic Variation -- Lessons from Iceland
"DNA molecules are entirely separate from medical records. In the future, however, the DNA molecule and the medical record are likely to merge into one when it becomes possible to sequence a person's entire genome and put that information on a computer chip or disk. This is not deCODE's current project, but we should not wait until this step is taken to explore its implications. The most important questions would then be who has the authority to make such a disk in the first place; who owns the disk; who controls the use of the disk; and whether the disk containing the genome should be treated as specially protected medical information, as is the case for psychiatric and drug-dependency records? In clinical settings, it seems reasonable to treat such a disk as containing particularly private and sensitive medical information. It also seems reasonable to permit patients to agree to have their entire genome scanned without detailing the tens of thousands of tests that would be run. This is akin to consent to a battery of tests during an annual physical examination.

On the other hand, in a research setting, or when a specific genetic disorder is suspected, the creation and use of an individual patient's genome disk should be subject to the informed consent of the patient. And since they can be both separated from the medical record and readily recreated, research subjects should retain the right to have the files containing their genetic information destroyed at any time.

Iceland's experience with deCODE provides a useful catalyst for formulating fair and ethical rules for research on genetic variation. The Icelandic experience demonstrates that people are concerned about how genetic research is done, that medical-records research and DNA-based research are not the same, that community consultation is necessary but not sufficient to justify DNA-based research ethically, that the probable benefits of such research should be spelled out as clearly as possible, and that international standards for consent to and withdrawal from research should apply directly to research on human genetic variation. Rules for such research will retain their relevance even after it becomes possible to transfer all the genetic-sequence information in a DNA molecule to a computer disk."

redux [02.13.00]
find related articles. powered by google. The Daily Davos Beyond the Genome
"By the spring of this year, the first draft of the human genome -- the sequence of all the genetic instructions needed to make up a human being -- will be published on the Web. But that is only the end of the beginning. Scientists still have very little idea of what most of the 100,000 or so human genes actually do, and finding out will take them into a very different area of research.

The raw material of the genome program has been anonymous samples of DNA, manipulated by complex laboratory machines that turn out information like a production line turns out widgets. But the new era of post-genome research involves analysing real people and their confidential medical records. The records are needed to match the genes that people carry with the diseases they may develop. Only then will gigabytes of genetic data into new treatments for cancer or heart disease. And that is why socialised healthcare is a vital part of post-genome research.

Countries such as the U.S., which provide healthcare through private enterprise, are useless for this sort of genetic inquiry. Only those countries which have organized the delivery of healthcare to their population in a way that is independent of the marketplace have built up the universal medical records necessary to make sense of the patterns of disease."

redux [09.02.00]
find related articles. powered by google. NPR : All Things Considered Tissue Banks
"Robert talks with Barry Eisenstein M.D., Vice President of Science and Technology for Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, about his hospital's participation in creating an international tissue bank. They will be asking patients for permission to sell tissue left over from surgery. The tissue will be used by scientists worldwide for genetic research.”

redux [05.15.00]
find related articles. powered by google. The New York Times Who Owns Your Genes?
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""I just wanted to do something good," Mr. Fuchs said. "But once money came into the picture, why not have it be shared with me?"

These days more and more patients are asking the same question. Laboratories offer tests for more than 700 human genes, with more being discovered almost daily. And, for almost every gene, some medical institution or some company owns a patent on its use.

"The value of patients' tissues has potentially gone up enormously," said Dr. Barry Eisenstein, the vice president for science and technology at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. But, Dr. Eisenstein said, patients whose cells provided the genes that have been patented are almost never compensated. "

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Bioinformatics will be at the core of biology in the 21st century. In fields ranging from structural biology to genomics to biomedical imaging, ready access to data and analytical tools are fundamentally changing the way investigators in the life sciences conduct research and approach problems. Complex, computationally intensive biological problems are now being addressed and promise to significantly advance our understanding of biology and medicine. No biological discipline will be unaffected by these technological breakthroughs.


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