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Microbiomes raise privacy concerns

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 Cinnamon    24,385

Next thing will be skin scrapings at routine traffic stops and visits to the doctor.

And then we'll have to start a whole new government agency that employs people to follow all the politicians around to make sure no one gets any of their dna.

Meanwhile yours will be in a database somewhere waiting for them to use it against you at some point in the future. Microbiomes are very unique to us, this article says.


DNA from microbes living on the human body can be used to identify individuals.



Eye of Science/Science Photo Library

DNA from bacteria in human faeces could be used as a ‘gut print’ to identify individuals.

Call it a ‘gut print’. The collective DNA of the microbes that colonize a human body can uniquely identify someone, researchers have found, raising privacy issues.

The finding1, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on 11 May, suggests that it might be possible to identify a participant in an anonymous study of the body’s microbial denizens — its microbiome — and to reveal details about that person’s health, diet or ethnicity. A publicly available trove of microbiome DNA maintained by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), meanwhile, already contains potentially identifiable human DNA, according to a study2 published in Genome Research on 29 April.

The papers do not name individuals on the basis of their microbiomes — and predict that it would be difficult to do so currently — but they do suggest that those conducting microbiome research should take note.

“Right now, it’s a little bit of a Wild West as far as microbiome data management goes,” says Curtis Huttenhower, a computational biologist at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts, who led the latest study1. “As the field develops, we need to make sure there’s a realization that our microbiomes are highly unique.”

Human-genomics researchers have grappled with privacy concerns for years. In 2013, scientists showed3 that they could name five people who had taken part anonymously in the international 1,000 Genomes project, by cross-referencing their DNA with a genealogy database that also contained ages, locations and surnames.

In recent years, the microbiome’s influence on our health and behaviour has become a hot research topic. Data from human-microbiome studies tend to end up in public repositories, but it was not clear whether microbiomes were permanent enough in individuals to identify them over time.


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Why?  I don't get it,  why this insane need to track,  watch,  know,  everything,  about everyone?  :o

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 Talon    716


American Gut

Join thousands of others who have already donated and signed up for American Gut.


It’s simple to join: donate $99 to the project and we will send you a home sampling kit (or sign up for multiple kits – scroll to bottom to review). In return, we will provide you with a list of the bacteria in your sample (genus level where possible) – and relative abundance – and show you how your bacterial community compares to

others in the study based on the diet and lifestyle questionnaire you fill out when you take your sample. The more people we have in the study, the more we will learn and be able to tell you. So giddy up!

100% of the donations go to the Knight Lab at the University of California, San Diego and the Earth Microbiome Project at the University of Chicago. Please note this is a pure science project, not a fee-for-service business. Aside from one person, the dozens of people working on this project volunteer their time and scientific expertise.

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