Government Genome Project to Sequence DNA of All US Babies at Birth
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has invested $25 million into a project to identify the DNA structure of American infants entitled the 2013 Genomic Sequencing and Newborn Screening Disorders (GSNSD) research program.
Funding for this project is provided by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI).
The initial concerns of the GSNSD are the ethical, legal and social implications of using infant genetic information for scientific study.
This endeavor is being facilitated with academic institutions in cities:
• San Francisco
• Chapel Hill
• Kansas City
The decoding of infant DNA, called genome sequencing, will create a map of each individual child’s genetic make-up to identify health risks that could develop in childhood or later in life.
Eric Green, director of the NHGRI said: “We are at a point now where powerful new genome sequencing technologies are making it faster and more affordable than ever to access genomic information about patients. This initiative will help us better understand how we can appropriately use this information to improve health and prevent disease in infants and children.”
Currently, an estimated 4 million US infants born annually have their heel pricked for a blood sample that is tested for 30 rare diseases as part of a national health initiative.
At the privately-funded Niederhuber’s Inova Translational Medicine Institute(NITMI), scientists are mapping the genetic sequence of infants and comparing them to parents and relatives of the participants.
By analyzing the genetic make-up of these children, researchers hope to discover genetic defects, developmental disorders and predict the propensity of an individual toward health problems.
John Niederhuber, director of the NITMI said : “If I truly believed that knowing one’s genome was going to be transformative to medicine over the next decade or more, then wouldn’t I want to start generating that information around the time of birth?”
Christine Eng, professor at the Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) commented: “This is a direct benefit of the Human Genome Project [the big effort to decode our DNA]. We’re now able to directly benefit patients through more accurate diagnosis.”
Eng was the lead researcher in a study that utilized a new sequencing technique that could decipher the “recipes” of proteins within a genome.
the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is endeavoring to collect the DNA of all children to be stored in case of a future arrest or circumstance wherein the use of their DNA would be pertinent or necessary for involvement in criminal activity and conviction.
DHS estimates that 1 million people are subject to this intrusive collection because of incarceration and non-criminal reasons. Children who are caught in the criminal system have their DNA stored along with adult offenders, according to the Council for Responsible Genetics.
Jennifer Lynch of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) asserts: “Collecting DNA from anyone detained by the government for any number of non-criminal reasons – especially juveniles – seems to be yet another step on the slippery slope of collecting DNA from everyone in the United States, no matter their status.”
Read the full article at: nsnbc.me
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