However, due to privacy concerns that the identity of individuals could be determined through DNA data, health institutes in the US and abroad removed public access to the genetic data coming from these association studies.
Such association studies have been shown to shed light on diseases such as cancer or Alzheimer’s disease, and sharing the raw data from these studies with other scientists can aid tremendously with further discoveries. For this reason, Dr. Eran Halperin of the International Computer Science Institute (ICSI) and Tel Aviv University, and colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley have developed “a mathematical formula and a software solution that ensures that malicious eyes will have very low chances to identify individuals in any study,” says Dr. Halperin.
The team found a mathematical formula to determine which SNPs -- small molecules of DNA that differ from individual to individual in the human population -- can be publicly accessed without compromising information about the participation of any individual in the study. Using software designed with this formula, NIH and other institutes can distribute important research data and make it available to scientists without compromising anyone’s privacy.
“We’ve been able to determine how much of the DNA information one can reveal, without compromising a person’s privacy,” says Halperin. “This means the substantial effort invested in collecting this data will not have been in vain. Making this data publicly available again could speed up research and allow people to make new discoveries, more quickly.”
Genome association studies compare data from many individuals to identify specific positions in the genome that may be associated with an increased risk of disease, such as cancer. For instance, Dr. Halperin was recently involved in a study that found a link between a specific genetic mutation and risk of a type of non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. By allowing access to genetic information from such studies to the scientific community, other scientists can leverage these studies to find more connections between genetics and diseases.
The authors of the study plan to provide access to their software to NIH, and hope that scientists will use it, thereby providing public access to their now secure collected data.
Eran Halperin of ICSI and Tel Aviv University
The International Computer Science Institute is a non-profit research institute located in Berkeley, California. For over 20 years, ICSI has provided a collaborative environment where prominent computer science researchers from all over the world pursue cutting edge research on a variety of computer science topics.
Leah Hitchcock | Newswise Science News
How brains surrender to sleep
23.06.2017 | IMP - Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pathologie GmbH
A new technique isolates neuronal activity during memory consolidation
22.06.2017 | Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)
An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.06.2017 | Information Technology