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Life Sci Soc Policy. 2014 Dec;10:4. doi: 10.1186/s40504-014-0004-9. Epub 2014 Apr 5.

Ethical considerations of research policy for personal genome analysis: the approach of the Genome Science Project in Japan.

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Department of Biomedical Ethics and Public Policy, Graduate School of Medicine, Osaka University, 2-2 Yamadaoka, Suita, Osaka, 565-0871, Japan,


As evidenced by high-throughput sequencers, genomic technologies have recently undergone radical advances. These technologies enable comprehensive sequencing of personal genomes considerably more efficiently and less expensively than heretofore. These developments present a challenge to the conventional framework of biomedical ethics; under these changing circumstances, each research project has to develop a pragmatic research policy. Based on the experience with a new large-scale project-the Genome Science Project-this article presents a novel approach to conducting a specific policy for personal genome research in the Japanese context. In creating an original informed-consent form template for the project, we present a two-tiered process: making the draft of the template following an analysis of national and international policies; refining the draft template in conjunction with genome project researchers for practical application. Through practical use of the template, we have gained valuable experience in addressing challenges in the ethical review process, such as the importance of sharing details of the latest developments in genomics with members of research ethics committees. We discuss certain limitations of the conventional concept of informed consent and its governance system and suggest the potential of an alternative process using information technology.

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