Privacy-preserving genomic testing in the clinic: a model using HIV treatment

McLaren, Paul J; Raisaro, Jean Louis; Aouri, Manel; Rotger, Margalida; Ayday, Erman; Bartha, István; Delgado, Maria B; Vallet, Yannick; F Günthard, Huldrych; Cavassini, Matthias; Furrer, Hansjakob; Doco-Lecompte, Thanh; Marzolini, Catia; Schmid, Patrick; Di Benedetto, Caroline; Decosterd, Laurent A; Fellay, Jacques; Hubaux, Jean-Pierre; Telenti, Amalio (2016). Privacy-preserving genomic testing in the clinic: a model using HIV treatment. Genetics in medicine, 18(8), pp. 814-822. Palgrave Macmillan 10.1038/gim.2015.167

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PURPOSE The implementation of genomic-based medicine is hindered by unresolved questions regarding data privacy and delivery of interpreted results to health-care practitioners. We used DNA-based prediction of HIV-related outcomes as a model to explore critical issues in clinical genomics. METHODS We genotyped 4,149 markers in HIV-positive individuals. Variants allowed for prediction of 17 traits relevant to HIV medical care, inference of patient ancestry, and imputation of human leukocyte antigen (HLA) types. Genetic data were processed under a privacy-preserving framework using homomorphic encryption, and clinical reports describing potentially actionable results were delivered to health-care providers. RESULTS A total of 230 patients were included in the study. We demonstrated the feasibility of encrypting a large number of genetic markers, inferring patient ancestry, computing monogenic and polygenic trait risks, and reporting results under privacy-preserving conditions. The average execution time of a multimarker test on encrypted data was 865 ms on a standard computer. The proportion of tests returning potentially actionable genetic results ranged from 0 to 54%. CONCLUSIONS The model of implementation presented herein informs on strategies to deliver genomic test results for clinical care. Data encryption to ensure privacy helps to build patient trust, a key requirement on the road to genomic-based medicine.Genet Med advance online publication 14 January 2016Genetics in Medicine (2016); doi:10.1038/gim.2015.167.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Haematology, Oncology, Infectious Diseases, Laboratory Medicine and Hospital Pharmacy (DOLS) > Clinic of Infectiology

UniBE Contributor:

Furrer, Hansjakob


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health




Palgrave Macmillan




Annelies Luginbühl

Date Deposited:

09 Feb 2016 13:39

Last Modified:

06 Aug 2016 01:30

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:





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