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Research Ethics MonthlyISSN 2206-2483

Study finds new way genome privacy can be breached – The San Diego (Bradley J. Fikes | September 2017)

Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Study finds new way genome privacy can be breached – The San Diego (Bradley J. Fikes | September 2017)

Published/Released on September 04, 2017 | Posted by Admin on October 10, 2017 / , , , , , ,
 


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Anonymized genomes can be traced back to the people they came from by linking the data to identifiable individual traits, according to a study published Monday.

While the headline grabs the attention, and the warning may indeed be a sobering reality in the not-too-distant-future, the reality of individuals having their genetic privacy breached is still reasonably impractical.

The proof-of-concept study points to potential privacy risks at a time when genomes are being sequenced in larger numbers for health research. But it also points to benefits in areas such as forensics where accurate descriptions, such as facial features, are essential.

Using 1,061 volunteers, researchers fed their genomic and biometric information into a machine learning program. Characteristics examined included sex, skin and eye color, facial structure, age, height, weight, and even voice.
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