Research Ethics Roundup: DNA Data-Sharing Dilemma, Early Conclusion of the Sprint Study, and More

From the ban of biomedical testing on captive chimpanzees to the first published results of an international “basket study,” this week’s Research Ethics Roundup offers a glimpse into topics that affect both human subjects and animal care and use.

DNA sequence

Giant Study Poses DNA Data-Sharing Dilemma: The National Institutes of Health (NIH)’s Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) working group is set to release a project plan this fall, which is expected to outline how much data will be returned to subjects. The project will collect data on genomes, health records, and other physiological measurements to learn how genetics, environment, and lifestyle influence the risk of disease and efficacy of treatments.

Ban on Chimp Testing Puts Wild Ape Vaccine for Ebola at Risk: On September 15, a ban by the US Fish and Wildlife Service on the use of captive chimpanzees for biomedical testing goes into force, potentially ending an oral Ebola vaccine study. Although research that benefits chimps will still be permissible, laboratories are reluctant to apply for such permits due to the fear that negative publicity would jeopardize their other studies.

Clinical Trial Shows Promise of “Basket Studies” for Cancer Drugs: The first results of an international basket study—which concentrates on a specific tumor mutation instead of a specific cancer type—have been published. The trial showed that a drug focused on a specific genetic mutation has varying levels of effectiveness in treating different types of cancers. Basket studies are seen as an opportunity to test therapies for rare cancers.

High Blood Pressure Treatment Should Be More Aggressive, Study Finds: The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute announced the early conclusion of the Sprint study on blood pressure, which was originally projected to end in 2017, citing “potentially lifesaving information” that lower systolic blood pressure significantly reduces the risk of heart attacks, heart failure, strokes, and death. In August, the study’s safety and monitoring committee recommended that administrators end the trial due to the overwhelming nature of the evidence gathered since the study’s launch in 2009.