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Y Chromosomes of Prehistoric People Along the Yangtze River

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In the past, scientists have primarily examined the mtDNA of ancient DNA. After all, mtDNA is much more prevalent (100’s to 1000’s of copies per cell) than nuclear DNA (just 1 copy per cell) and thus it is easier to find samples that are not degraded by time. New amplification techniques as well as improved anti-contamination procedures have made it possible for Y chromosomal DNA to be
In a new study (epub ahead of print – which means that it is available online before it is published in Human Genetics), researchers examined the remains of male skeletons that were buried in the loessal soil in Maqiao, Xindili, Wucheng, Daxi, and Taosi, areas along the Yangtze River. Interestingly, these skeletons were buried without chests or coffins. … Click to read more!

The Celebrity Genome Debate Rages On

Jason Bobe over at The Personal Genome has a great post this week called “False Alarm: The Celebrity Meme” about the use of ‘famous’ scientists in early genome sequencing.  He poses a number of interesting and thought-provoking questions about the topic.  Make sure you read the comments that others have left.  Hsien at EyeonDNA wrote so much that she made her answers a full-length post.

The subject is traveling all over the blogosphere.  The Rocketfish Manifesto addresses personal genome sequencing with a little bit of humor.  And John Hawks’ Anthropology Weblog has a lengthy post with some new insights.  There is a lot of great reading material available if you’re interested in the Personal Genome … Click to read more!

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Ethical and Legal Issues Surrounding Large-Scale Genomic Databases


I recently came across a review article by Henry T. Greely, a Professor of Law, Professor (by courtesy) of Genetics, and Director of the Center for Law and Bioethics at Stanford. The article is entitled “The Uneasy Ethical and Legal Underpinnings of Large-Scale Genomic Biobanks (pdf)” and was recently published in the Annual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics.
According to Mr. Greely, the identity of participants in large-scale genomic biobanks cannot effectively protected. A biobank is defined as a database of genotypic and phenotypic data. Using genetic information, physical information, or a combination of the two, people can identify an individual in such a large database:

“Someone really interested could get a DNA sample from me – from a licked stamp, a drinking glass, or some tissue – and have it genotyped for a few hundred dollars, but few will have to go to the genomic data; the phenotypic and demographic data will often be sufficient.”

“Eliminating name, mailing address, and social security number does not eliminate identifiers; it just eliminates the easiest identifiers, making the search somewhat more difficult and expensive.”

Unfortunately, it is impossible to remove all the data one could use to identify biobank … Click to read more!