Archive by category | Ethics

Nanotechnology and food

Nanotechnology and food

The food industry will only reap the benefits of nanotechnology if issues related to safety are addressed and companies are more open about what they are doing. This ethical question is addressed by Nature Nanotechology in its February Editorial (5, 89; 2010), an excerpt from which follows. So far nanotechnology has largely escaped becoming ‘the next GM’ — which is shorthand for the rejection of genetically modified food by the public in the UK and elsewhere in Europe — but this has largely been because many applications of nanotechnology have been inherently non-controversial: who can object to stain-free trousers or  … Read more

Protein Data Bank policies for disputed structures

Helen M. Berman, director of the RCSB (Research Collabatory for Structural Bioinformatics) Protein Data Bank, and co-authors wrote a Correspondence to Nature ( 463, 425; 2010) to clarify the PDB’s correction procedures and policies in the light of a current investigation. Their letter is reproduced here.  Read more

Nature Neuroscience on gaps in ethical oversight of research

Nature Neuroscience on gaps in ethical oversight of research

Although institutional review boards are important ethical gatekeepers of human patient research, there is little data to evaluate their effectiveness. More coordination and a more transparent decision-making process is critical if review boards are to make appropriate and consistent decisions – so says the Editorial in this month’s (February) issue of Nature Neuroscience (13, 141; 2010). From the Editorial: “An ethical overview is meant to be more than just another bureaucratic hurdle in doing research; it is a guarantee that all research is held to certain minimum standards and, particularly for human patient research, it is an assurance that the  … Read more

Scientific integrity in Iran

Scientific integrity in Iran

Nature continues to report on allegations of scientific plagiarism by Iranian authors. An Editorial in this week’s (10 December) issue calls for Iran’s institutions to investigate the allegations as a matter of urgency (Nature 462, 699; 2009, free to read online) in the light of fresh evidence that senior officials in the Iranian government have co-authored scientific papers that show signs of plagiarism (Nature 462, 704-705; 2009). This follows similar revelations in October (see Nature 461, 578–579; 2009). What follows is an extract of this week’s Editorial: The first wave of alleged plagiarism cases was widely discussed both inside and  … Read more

Nature Nanotechnology on public attitudes and responses

The proportion of the public that knows about nanotechnology has reached a plateau, which means that it is now necessary to develop new approaches to explore public perceptions in greater detail than before, according to the November Editorial in Nature Nanotechnology (4, 695; 2009). The Editorial draws attention to “the publication of the first meta-analysis of survey data on public attitudes towards the risks and benefits associated with nanotechnology (see ”″>page 752 of this issue). Terre Satterfield and colleagues looked at 22 publications reporting the results of surveys and found that the public response to nanotechnology has, so far, been different to the responses to previous new technologies in a number of ways.  Read more

Be consistent on plagiarism rules, says Nature Genetics

The US Department of Health and Social Security’s Public Health Service (PHS) ruled in 2005 that “Plagiarism is the appropriation of another person’s ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit.” in its November Editorial ‘Data divorce’, Nature Genetics (41, 1157; 2009) takes the Office of Research Integrity (part of the US Department of Health and Human Services) to task for producing a different definition:  … Read more

Education needed more than regulation for genetic testing

With sequencing costs dropping, it is likely that direct-to-consumer genetic services will soon include affordable whole-genome sequencing. Consumers who have familiarized themselves with the limitations of these data will be better equipped for the 3 gigabases of information that may soon come their way, according to the Editorial in the November issue of Nature Methods (6, 783; 2009). What is the right approach for direct-to-consumer genetic tests, asks the Editorial, given concerns about analytical validity, accuracy, clinical validity, clinical usefulness, helpfulness to consumers, and that the genetic variants tested for are actually associated with increased disease risk? Different countries are handling these issues in different regulatory and legislative ways, but the Editorial argues that a restrictive approach is not helpful, particularly given the huge range of genetic conditions and possible ‘tests’.  Read more

Nature Biotechnology: Personal genome data on the line

Continuing the theme of yesterday’s post about data sharing, Nature Biotechnology is running an Editorial this month (Nature Biotech. 27, 777; 2009), ‘DNA confidential’, pointing out that as “the cost of human genome sequencing plunges and large-scale genome-phenotype studies become possible, society should do more to reward those individuals who choose to disclose their data, despite the risks”. The Editorial continues:  … Read more

Nature Cell Biology on research integrity and accessibility

The cell biology literature contains manipulated data that distort findings, usually in an attempt to ‘beautify’ and, rarely, to commit fraud, states the September Editorial in Nature Cell Biology (11, 1045; 2009, free to read online) According to the Editorial, a National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report, ‘Ensuring the Integrity, Accessibility, and Stewardship of Research Data in the Digital Age’, "arrives at no hard and fast rules; the panel found that different fields have quite different requirements. In the words of panel chairs Phillip Sharp and Daniel Kleppner, “the report provides a framework for dealing with the challenges to the  … Read more

Personal genomes and medicine at the British Library

Personal GenoME & Medicine: Hype or Reality? So runs the title of the next Talkscience evening at the British Library in London on 23 September. As usual, there is a Nature Network forum to provide more details of the event and to start the discussion going online before the meeting itself, so readers are encouraged to check that out and contribute ideas. How is cheaper, faster DNA sequencing helping or hindering our ability to understand disease, treatment and prevention? Which of the many single-nucleotide polymorphisms that have been identified in genome-wide association studies might be causal to a disease? How will advances in genome technologies lead to better diagnosis and treatments? What are the legal, ethical and other issues concerning “direct to consumer” personalised genomics?  Read more