Data minding

Dan MacArthur reads the American Medical Association’s letter to the FDA about direct-to-consumer genetics testing, and doesn’t like what he sees (“American Medical Association: You Cant Look At Your Genome Without Our Supervision”).

In other words, the AMA is seeking to maintain its members traditional monopoly over the interpretation of genetic information and they expect regulators to act as their enforcers, beating down the upstart DTC genomics companies who have wandered onto their sacred turf. This is, of course, an absurd, desperate demand. If doctors think that people should consult them about their genomes, they shouldnt run crying to the regulators to provide the necessary force; instead, they need to convince the public that a medical consultation adds genuine value to their genomic information. Unfortunately for the AMA, right now its far from clear that this is true: in many cases, DTC genomics customers are far better equipped to interpret their results than their doctors are.

Seems to me they’re taking more or less the same approach with direct-to-consumer genomics as they did with Doc Brinkley’s goat gland operations. (Just to be clear, not a good reaction.)

Razib takes the point and concludes that Brinkley’s Mexican radio model – that is, offshore sequencing and genotyping – will probably win the day. Still, maybe it’s time for a data rush before somebody pulls the regulatory plug (“Run as fast as you can”):

But heres the important point, Ive got the markers on several computers and in Gmail. Once the information is out, its out. Theres no way that the government can put the genie back in the bottle for those of us who have raced ahead of feared regulation. So run, just in case. Once you cross the threshold they cant drag you back, no matter how powerful their lobbyists and marketers are.

I’m thinking it would be notably helpful if we came up with a more useful application of nuclear SNP data to genealogy. Hard to regulate away genealogy research. But lots of challenges interpreting SNP data in genealogical terms.

Now, if I can just find a way to embed advertisements in SNP data. Ooooh! Better yet, June Carter.