INTERESTING: Will this change how crime scenes are investigated?

You shed DNA everywhere you go – trace samples in the water, sand and air are enough to identify who you are, raising ethical questions about privacy
Published: May 15, 2023 11.01am EDT
Jenny Whilde  — Adjunct Research Scientist in Marine Bioscience, University of Florida
Jessica Alice Farrell  —  Postdoctoral associate, University of Florida

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Ethical implications of collecting human eDNA

Our team dubs inadvertent retrieval of human DNA from environmental samples “human genetic bycatch.” We’re calling for deeper discussion about how to ethically handle human environmental DNA.

Human eDNA could present significant advances to research in fields as diverse as conservation, epidemiology, forensics and farming. If handled correctly, human eDNA could help archaeologists track down undiscovered ancient human settlements, allow biologists to monitor cancer mutations in a given population or provide law enforcement agencies useful forensic information.

However, there are also myriad ethical implications relating to the inadvertent or deliberate collection and analysis of human genetic bycatch. Identifiable information can be extracted from eDNA, and accessing this level of detail about individuals or populations comes with responsibilities relating to consent and confidentiality.

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Some one I know LOVES “crime” shows.  Often, DNA can “hang” a crime on a criminal several decades after the event.  Recently, we have been seeing some “solved” by “forensic genealogy”.  The DNA from a crime scene can be linked to a family and, by diligent police work, the criminal is identified, tried, and convicted.

Some SciFi shows have said that forensic evidence can be tampered with  — even DNA.

Now with this article, maybe the air, dirt, or whatever at a crime scene can be captured and cataloged.

One of the crime shows had the police trailing a suspect to get his DNA from a discarded cigarette butt or a water bottle.  Maybe now, just test the air in the interrogation room might be all that is needed.

Shades of 1984.


INSPIRATIONAL: Peanut Butter Smell Test for Alzheimer’s

Peanut Butter Smell Test for Alzheimer’s

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An ingenious group of researchers at the University of Florida discovered all we may need is some peanut butter and a ruler.

Considering that the left side of the brain primarily processes what we smell through our left nostril and the right side of our brain covers the right nostril and Alzheimer’s strikes the left side more than the right, what if you performed the following experiment?

Close your eyes and mouth and breathe normally through the nose. Then close one nostril and hold a foot-long ruler out from the open nostril. After their eyes, mouth, and one nostril were closed, the container of peanut butter was opened at the bottom of the ruler and moved closer 1 cm upon each exhale until the person indicated that they detected the odor. Then they repeated the whole procedure again using the other nostril.

In the normal elderly controls, they smelled the peanut butter as soon as it came within an average of 18 centimeters, which is about 7 inches from either nostril. And in the right nostril of Alzheimer’s patients was about the same, 7 inches. No difference, but in their left nostril, only 2 inches. The peanut butter had to get all the way up to 2 inches before they could detect it through their left nostril. And this happened every single time, left nostril impairment of odor detection was present in all the patients with probable Alzheimer’s disease.

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You can bet I’ll be testing myself with peanut butter.

Amazing that these folks came up with a cheap and easy way to dispositively test for the disease.

Truly inspirational.

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