Wednesday, July 25, 2012

CODIS Loci Not Ready for Disease Prediction After All?

Last month, I noted the findings of a superior court in Vermont that "some of the CODIS loci have associations with identifiable serious medical conditions," making the scientific evidence "sufficient to overcome the previously held belief[s]" about the innocuous nature of the CODIS loci [1]. The judge based her conclusion in State v. Abernathy [2] that the CODIS loci now permit "probabilistic predictions of disease" on the unpublished views of biologist Greg Wray, who oversees the Center for Evolutionary Genomics and the DNA Sequencing Core Facility, within Duke University’s Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy.

A technical report accepted for publication in the Journal of Forensic Sciences seems to dispute these claims. Sara Katsanis, a staff researcher at the same Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy, and Jennifer Wagner, a research associate at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for the Integration of Genetic Healthcare Technologies, searched the biomedical literature and genomic databases not only for associations with phenotypes in the current 13 loci used in offender databases, but also in ones that soon may be added to the system. They came up with “no evidence” that any particular CODIS single-locus genotypes “are indicative of phenotype.”


1. CODIS Loci Ready for Disease Prediction, Vermont Court Says, June 15, 2012.
2. State v. Abernathy, No. 3599-9-11 (Vt. Super. Ct. June 1, 2012).

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