Privacy Problems With DNA Data
Health Wellness

DNA As Data: Privacy Invaded At The Molecular Level

The digital age has allowed for instant access to anything and everything, but at a personal cost.

39
Pixabay / FotoshopTofs
https://pixabay.com/en/microbiologist-scientist-woman-1332376/

To those who innovate, groundbreaking is their work, so any new inventions are seen as beneficial even when there are negatives that must be considered. This is not to say that innovation is bad, but rather certain considerations that are necessary can be overlooked.

I can recognize this. I want to be an engineer and make new tools that could help society as a whole, but there are consequences for everything. Medicine is one of the most important industries where innovations can have the most direct impact on society. Medicines can be revolutionary for patients, yet the process of drug development and approval is long and expensive. Because while a drug could cure cancer, it could also easily kill with the wrong dose. The same idea goes for personalized medicine.

Many people are aware of the services provided by Ancestry DNA and similar and how it examines your DNA. As said on their website, technology that is fairly recent is used, an autosomal assay that can assess up to 700,000 locations in your DNA, can be digitized for their research and your eventual product. This will not stop at simple ancestry testing, as the field of pharmacogenomics is an increasingly viable pursuit for pharmaceutical companies. Pharmacogenomics, or personalized medicine, is the idea that your DNA can be used to tailor medications based on what your body can handle.

In theory, this sounds ideal. You send in a sample, it gets analyzed and compared to medicines that will treat your ailment, which is then analyzed to find an ideal dosage for your body. It could minimize side effects and overall have a greater efficiency in treatment, as it works hand in hand with your DNA.

I had previously attended a week-long immersion program for teachers about biotechnology, and a representative from a pharmaceutical company was there. They had mentioned pharmacogenomics and were super excited about the prospects it could hold for the company and the patients they serve. However, the teachers and others in the room were quick to point out errors in the logic.

After all, drugs can take around 10 years to go through just clinical trials, which does not account for all parts of drug development. Many were concerned with the potential costs of personalized medicine and how manufacturing could prove difficult. None of this has been implemented yet, so it is hard to see what the outcome could be the economic factor of this.

This still avoids the ethical issues surrounding DNA and personalized medicine.

It's easy to see that without proper regulation, personalized medicine will prove invasive to the lives of the people who use it. Imagine that your entire genome was on a computer, matched with your name and sensitive healthcare information. This would be legal, as it would be a part of your healthcare records which are legally protected documents that your healthcare providers own. Regulations on your doctor will prove sufficient on that end, but for pharmaceutical companies (along with companies aforementioned), it could be different.

These companies have fewer restrictions around them, and if innovation goes fast enough regulators will have trouble keeping up, leaving the consumer (who can also be a patient) vulnerable to attacks on their information. This applies to companies that are not pharmaceutical, as they do not have the same regulations placed on them as the healthcare sector.

Technically, depending on its use, DNA can be classified as protected health information as defined in HIPAA or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Data should then be more secure in a pharmaceutical company than an ancestry testing company, even though both hold crucial information about users and their health. When you think about it, some services offered by testing companies offer to screen you for certain diseases and determine the probability of developing that disease. While not accurate completely, this is not information that would be easily revealed in a healthcare setting, as patient information is to be kept private at all times.

Pharmaceutical companies can have this issue as well because traditionally, doctors prescribe based on what they know about their patient and their tests. Personalized medicine requires data from the patient to the pharmaceutical company so that the company can manufacture prescriptions tailor made to the patient. This spreads patient information even more which leads to issues with security that companies will have to deal with. Improperly protected data, especially health data, can show cracks in the ethics of any company, healthcare or not. Patients need to know this information, but once its out of their hands, many problems will to arise.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Swoon

119 People Reveal How The Pandemic Has Affected Their Love Lives, And Honestly... Relatable

"I haven't been able to get out of the 'talking phase' with anyone."

The reality is, there's no part of life the pandemic hasn't affected. Whether it's your work life, your home life, your social life, or your love life, coronavirus (COVID-19) is wreaking havoc on just about everything — not to mention people's health.

When it comes to romance, in particular, people are all handling things differently and there's no "right way" of making it through, regardless of your relationship status (single, taken, married, divorced, you name it). So, some of Swoon's creators sought out to hear from various individuals on how exactly their love lives have been affected since quarantine began.

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

Nordstrom's Biggest Sale Has The Most Legendary Deals On Luxury Beauty Brands We've Ever Seen

Counting down the days to the Chanel box set gracing my front door.

I oftentimes (excessively) use the excuse of my job as a writer to justify my excessive spending habits.

I needed the new Huda Beauty palette before anyone else in the name of journalistic integrity. It was my job to test out the new Francis Kurkdjian fragrance to make sure I could tell people whether or not it was truly worth the splurge (it was).

Keep Reading... Show less

Listen, you can do whatever you want with your free time. It's yours to spend and you have free range. However, I hope you recognize that there are a ton of proactive things you can do right now instead of stalking your man's ex – yes, I know you do it becuase we are all guilty of it.

Take this time to research your privilege. There are always new things to learn and ways to deepen your understanding of yourself, this world, and your surroundings. We live in a multi-dimensional, ever-changing society that needs your help and your time. By that, I mean there are so many layers to each and every one of us, and with our physical, mental, spiritual, or emotional selves, we can create real, positive change.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

Preview These Top Nordstrom Anniversary Sale 2020 Picks — From Luxury Purses To Skincare

Currently 3 million people viewing the Stella McCartney purse I absolutely must have.

Online shopping has been a guilty pleasure of ours for years, but now more than ever it's been a shopping lover's outlet for all our home redecorating projects and resort wear we're purchasing for that trip we had to cancel.

One of my favorite places to (virtually) window shop has always been Nordstrom. I admittedly can't afford to go on sprees there often, but I still get a high off of adding things to my cart I know I'll never actually end up buying. But sometimes, that's not enough — that's when I, like the masses of luxury-, beauty-, fashion-, and decor-lovers around the world count the days down to the annual Nordstrom Anniversary Sale.

Keep Reading... Show less

I remember the days where closet drinking before going to a party or bar was part of the night's itinerary. It was a requirement to have a good buzz flowing before calling the Uber to take you to that bar where you see everyone from your high school at. The pregames were the best part of the night, but it wasn't ever because of the alcohol, it was because of the atmosphere and those who were in it. The number of times I've heard "Wait, why aren't you drinking tonight? C'mon, get drunk with us" is endless, but think about it. Where were you when you were asked that? You were at the goddamn pregame and being there doesn't mean you need to be ripping shots. Being social doesn't require alcohol.

I asked 20 people how they cut back on alcohol while still being social.

Keep Reading... Show less

Whether you are quarantining away from your significant other because of coronavirus or separated by the country lines at this time, it's fair to say that long-distance relationships are tough no matter what. However, there are ways to show love from a distance whether that's through daily FaceTime calls, cute Snapchats, or sexy pics sent to them on their phone. You can brighten up their day even more with some of these unique gifts that can fit any price range and a variety of interests.

Keep Reading... Show less

Rihanna is known for many things: her music, fashion, makeup, and now skincare. As a makeup artist myself, I can confidently say that she rocked the makeup world when she released her makeup line in 2017 and has been influencing the beauty world ever since.

Trying some of her makeup products myself, I know that she doesn't skimp on quality, and even though some of her products may be a little pricey, trust me, you get what you pay for.

Keep Reading... Show less

Friends, no one needs to be reminded that the COVID-19 pandemic rages on in the U.S. Frankly, this is because we have all collectively decided not to do the one simple thing that was asked of us and wear a mask.

I could make this a very boring article, and berate you with facts and statistics and the importance of wearing a mask, but I have opted against that for both of our sakes. Instead, I will attempt to reach you in another way. You might not care about a disapproving look from me, but from Nick Miller? Maybe that will be enough to change your mind.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments