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Researcher perspectives on ethics considerations in epigenetics: an international survey

Dupras, Charles; Knoppers, Terese; Palmour, Nicole; Beauchamp, Elisabeth; Liosi, Stamatina; Siebert, Reiner; Berner, Alison May; ... Joly, Yann; + view all (2022) Researcher perspectives on ethics considerations in epigenetics: an international survey. Clinical Epigenetics , 14 (1) , Article 110. 10.1186/s13148-022-01322-7. Green open access

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Abstract

Over the past decade, bioethicists, legal scholars and social scientists have started to investigate the potential implications of epigenetic research and technologies on medicine and society. There is growing literature discussing the most promising opportunities, as well as arising ethical, legal and social issues (ELSI). This paper explores the views of epigenetic researchers about some of these discussions. From January to March 2020, we conducted an online survey of 189 epigenetic researchers working in 31 countries. We questioned them about the scope of their field, opportunities in different areas of specialization, and ELSI in the conduct of research and knowledge translation. We also assessed their level of concern regarding four emerging non-medical applications of epigenetic testing-i.e., in life insurance, forensics, immigration and direct-to-consumer testing. Although there was strong agreement on DNA methylation, histone modifications, 3D structure of chromatin and nucleosomes being integral elements of the field, there was considerable disagreement on transcription factors, RNA interference, RNA splicing and prions. The most prevalent ELSI experienced or witnessed by respondents were in obtaining timely access to epigenetic data in existing databases, and in the communication of epigenetic findings by the media. They expressed high levels of concern regarding non-medical applications of epigenetics, echoing cautionary appraisals in the social sciences and humanities literature.

Type: Article
Title: Researcher perspectives on ethics considerations in epigenetics: an international survey
Location: Germany
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1186/s13148-022-01322-7
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1186/s13148-022-01322-7
Language: English
Additional information: Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.
Keywords: Conduct of research, Direct-to-consumer testing, ELSI, Epigenetics, Ethics, Forensics, Immigration, Knowledge translation, Life insurance
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences > Cancer Institute > Research Department of Cancer Bio
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences > Cancer Institute
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10155227
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