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Brits back sharing DNA for research

More than half of Brits (53%) are prepared to share their DNA with a pharmaceutical company to help advance research for drugs and treatments, a survey by KPMG has revealed.

According to the findings, the proportion is even higher – 66% – among people with a chronic illness or disability.

For all those who are likely to share their DNA, 47% would do it to find out more about their own health, 40% to contribute towards society, and 31% in return for a financial incentive, the results show.

Also of note, 48% said they were just as likely to share their DNA for non-life-threatening treatments as are they are for life-saving treatments.

However, there was also a significant level of reluctance to sharing DNA, with more than half of those who were unwilling to do so citing the concern that the information might be used without their knowledge.

“By using patients’ genetic profiles, R&D teams should be able to narrow down patient groups into subsets with a higher chance of responding to a specific treatment. This should speed up trials and eliminate ineffective therapies at an earlier stage, getting products into the market sooner, at lower cost,” noted Hilary Thomas, KPMG UK’s chief medical advisor.

“There is a clear willingness among Britons to want to help pharmaceuticals develop new products. However, there are obvious concerns around DNA being used without people’s permission, especially for corporate gain. This will and is already having a major impact on medical research.”

She went on to stress that the industry “has a lot more to do to raise awareness of how DNA and personal data can be used”.