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Am J Phys Anthropol. 2020 Feb;171(2):177-181. doi: 10.1002/ajpa.23943. Epub 2019 Oct 23.

Ethical priority of the most actionable system of biomolecules: the metabolome.

Lewis CM Jr1,2,3,4,5, McCall LI1,3,4,6,7, Sharp RR8, Spicer PG1,2,3,5.

Author information

1
University of Oklahoma (OU) College of Arts and Sciences, Norman, OK.
2
OU Center on the Ethics of Indigenous Genomic Research, Norman, OK.
3
OU Stephenson Cancer Center, Norman, OK.
4
OU Laboratories of Molecular Anthropology and Microbiome Research, Norman, OK.
5
OU Department of Anthropology, Norman, OK.
6
OU Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Norman, OK.
7
OU Department of Microbiology and Plant Biology, Norman, OK.
8
Mayo Clinic Biomedical Ethics Program, Rochester, MN.

Abstract

The metabolome is a system of small biomolecules (metabolites) and a direct result of human bioculture. Consequently, metabolomics is well poised to impact anthropological and biomedical research for the foreseeable future. Overall, we provide a perspective on the ethical, legal, and social implications (ELSI) of metabolomics, which we argue are often more alarming than those of genomics. Given the current mechanisms to fund research, ELSI beyond human DNA is stifled and in need of considerable attention.

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