DNA sequences can identify research subjects

Elizabeth Ryan

DNA sequences published online in research documents  can cause privacy problems for people who participated in the studies, the New York Times reported Sunday.

It had been accepted as common knowledge among researchers that DNA sequences of participants in genetic studies published in research could not identify the people who participated.  However, recently questions have surfaced about how true this is.

Earlier this year, a researcher at the Massachusets Institute of Technology found research subjects by randomly searching DNA sequences from a database along with the state where they lived and their ages.  He identified five different study participants, as well as 50 of their relatives.

Researchers throughout the country have suggested a licensing program for scientists before being allowed access to genetic databases to avoid future problems.

In the next few years, the amount of genetic data scientists collect is expected to increase drastically, making it important to close gaps in provacy problems before bigger databases are created.