Tag Archives: genetic_testing

50% of all disease genes found, really?

I have been reading now many times in nature genetics that a few newly found SNPs explain about half of the attributable risk by genes while I fear that this probably mixes up different epidemiological concepts.
The population attributable risk is usually defined as the reduction in incidence that would be observed if the population were entirely unexposed. This cannot be meant as I don’t know of any genetic study examining incidence so far. Continue reading 50% of all disease genes found, really?

Anonymizing genetic data

I have currently a paper under submission at the EJHG that covers ethical issues of genetic testing. One of the key messages is that genetic data are not anonymous if having simply stripped of names.
A story in a completely different field confirms my fears. According to a NYT article

Last October, Netflix, the online movie rental service, announced that it would award $1 million to the first person or team who can devise a system that is 10 percent more accurate than the company’s current system for recommending movies that customers would like.

but things turned worse by an article of Narayanan und Shmatikov Continue reading Anonymizing genetic data

Once again genetic testing

I have argued earlier that the free decision of an individual to allow genetic testing, will also reveal data on genetic relatives that have never consented to that procedure.
A new review by Bruce Weir now confirms that “it is reasonably straightforward to find the probability of the genotypes of individuals when their relationship is known…” My current work lets me also assume that with 500,000 SNP data at hand, much individual characteristics of the donor can be reconstructed – there are no anonymous DNAs datasets as some people still believe.
I even fear that genetic testing will increase for example in “homeless” (in vitro fertilized) individuals as these people will want to prevent sibling marriage – see for example the a-China DNA project. Other people may be curious about their genealogy, others about drug side effect prediction, lifestyle, assurance questions…
With every new dataset, available datasets will gradually decrease their anonymity level. I fear that anonymity is not so much a dichotomous property, it is much more a likelihood ratio to stay unknown under the probability to be known. Yea, yea.


Time online of Dec 17, 2006 reports that the British police is holding the DNA records of more than 1m innocent people — eight times more than ministers have previously admitted. I wonder if this will affect participation rate of the UK Biobank that targets health of lifestyle, environment and genes in 500,000 people.