With contributions from 9,000 web-savvy customers, the personal genetics company linkurl:23andMe;https://www.23andme.com/ has linked a suite of genes to eight rather playful traits, such as the ability to smell post-asparagus pee or the tendency to sneeze in sunlight. But in getting linkurl:the results published;http://www.plosgenetics.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pgen.1000993 today (June 24) in PLoS Genetics, they unintentionally illuminated an ungoverned landscape of human genetics research.
The study wasn't previewed by a human research ethics committee, but neither the company nor publishers acted illegally. Participants signed a consent form to have their DNA sequenced for $399 (now $499), agreeing that their genetic information could be used for research by 23andMe. And simple questionnaires that customers, including lead author linkurl:Nicholas Eriksson,;http://galton.uchicago.edu/%7Eeriksson/ completed on the company's website were voluntary. "It's actually just fun and addictive to take these surveys," said Eriksson, a statistical geneticist at 23andMe in Mountain View, California.From surveys, the 23andMe...
PLoS GeneticsPLoS GeneticsThe ScientistN. Eriksson et al, "Web-Based, Participant-Driven Studies Yield Novel Genetic Associations for Common Traits," PLoS Genet, 6(6): e1000993. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1000993
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