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Do you have a cold or flu? Spit and help Scanadu (docs.google.com)
34 points by sprague 1375 days ago | hide | past | web | 25 comments | favorite

"Fill in your name, e-mail address, and mailing address. "

A great way to build a database of dna! To be used for other reasons.

While I am not seriously thinking that this is some plot to do this it reminds me a bit of the scheme that the authorities use to round up people wanted on warrants by sending them a message that they have won a vacation. Then they all show up at the convention center to collect their winnings and are arrested en masse saving time and trouble.

In a sense this is really (or I should say really I should say "could be") an example of social engineering.

That's why best practices for human studies is to manage projects like this in the context of an Institutional Review Board. It's required for "federally funded projects, clinical trials, and those who seek publication in peer-reviewed journals." (quoting http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2013/07/22/cr... ).

It's not required for a company, but if it doesn't exist then I think it's okay to assume that they are not following the highest ethical guidelines.

Back in 2010, the company "23 And Me" caused an uproar because they were gathering data without an IRB. They instead got a post-hoc review when, during a publication peer review, they were asked about the missing IRB. Their board said basically that since the data isn't traceable to an individual, it falls outside of the requirements for an IRB.

People are still pissed off about this. See http://scientopia.org/blogs/drugmonkey/2013/02/21/plos-genet... . I agree - the IRB exception must be done before the data is gathered, not afterwards.

Your comment got me thinking.

What is to prevent someone from dumpster diving to collect dna?

While that dna is anonymous if anything interesting turns up in the dna it would be possible to trace it back to the owner with some certainty because if it was, say, at a restaurant you could (assuming the use of credit cards, security cameras) be tied to patrons of that restaurant or workers. And at that point you could triangulate enough to have a reason for further investigation and/or get warrants for things. Perhaps (ianal).

Taking this further how would something like that be viewed? I'm curious to what extent that would be viewed as unethical (in the US SCOTUS already has said you can pick through trash). So it appears to be legal.


> What is to prevent someone from dumpster diving to collect dna?

In general? Nothing. The only prohibitions I know of are the ones I mentioned (related to scientific research), plus some prohibitions related to the use of DNA to affect insurance or employment.

I can't easily predict what the future might bring. Science fiction stories have postulated that a police officer might use some sort of sequencing device to vacuum a place to see who was there recently. To be countered by someone releasing dust/cells picked up from public transport seats.

My guess though is that it will be acceptable. Just like state camera surveillance is acceptable.

Human IRBs are all hung up on informed consent.

That's quite a nice trick, do you have any source for this? I couldn't find any.

Wow, do you have a article link for that "rounding up criminals" story?

http://www.tdcaa.com/node/1542 - "Police trick leads to clearing of 129 warrants"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TiLX4bkKguA - video of several arrests using said premise.

Thanks for posting that. After reading the reply above yours I just spent 5 minutes searching in vain and nothing came up. I neglected to use the word "trick" in my search. Thanks for getting me out of the loop I was in trying to find this.

Who is their institutional review board?

Their entry at http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/scanadu-scout-the-first-me... says:

> As soon as we enter the clinical studies, the measurements relative to each study are collected to be part of the study data. This happens within the framework of a well defined Institutional Review Board - approved clinical protocol.

The page linked to by this HN post says "...to be a part of the first usability study and then clinical studies for the company’s road to FDA approval."

Since the page says they just wants saliva samples, not usability feedback, that means they are in stage 2 - a clinical study.

But I find nothing about their IRB on their web site or elsewhere.

Beyond the DNA database this could create, it's also for a for profit company and not a publicly released research? no...

1. Fill out form

2. Insert pet dog's slobber into test tube

3. $10 Amazon gift card

4. Maintain DNA anonymity

Indeed, the DNA database building potential of this project is a little outside my comfort zone.

Tinfoil hat says: "Nice try NSA, go away"

How about telling us to the best of your knowledge what we had, instead or in addition to the $10 gift card? I'd really be interested to know, even if it's a month later.

The third listed benefit of participating is

> Upon request, we will be happy to share your experimental results. It is understood that this is not an approved diagnostic test and results should not be used for medical diagnosis.

So... name, home address, and DNA sample for a $10 gift card?

No "US-only" in subject.

It'd be super cool if there were a good test for bacterial vs viral things. I often get sinus infections and get told to wait, wait, wait. Finally, I get some antibiotics, and the thing is gone in a few days, but in the meantime I've spent a week miserable, with low energy.

I think there is an increasing tendency to try to allow the infection to resolve itself, even when it is bacterial.

Try using a netipot regularly. Took me a while to get over the weirdness of it, but it's changed my sinuses forever (for the better).

The squeeze bottles you can buy from Costco are way more effective than neti pots. I've used both and found the neti pot just not really doing that much.

The squeeze bottles (which seem better than neti pots) help, but they don't actually cure infections, in my case. On the plus side, my kids think it's extremely entertaining to watch their dad shoot water through his nose!

Scanadu, makers of a cool "tricorder" will give you a $10 Amazon gift card if you send them your spit.


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