Poll Results – Are You Interested in Genomic Analysis?

In light of the launch of 23andMe and deCODEme, two genomic analysis companies, I recently asked whether or not my readers were interested in analysis of their own genome. The results suggest that of the people who voted, many were interested in the idea. The poll received a total of 51 votes, and I thank everyone who took a moment to cast their opinion (and I was very pleased with how well PollDaddy worked). Here are the results:
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It looks as though many people are interested in genomic analysis, and that a significant number have some concerns that must be addressed or resolved before they would consider it.

bbgm had a poll on his blog, with the results posted recently at “Your Personal Health: Readers Vote Yes“. Again, similar to my results, readers were … Click to read more!

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You Can Now Buy a Genetic Test at Rite-Aid


It’s not a whole-genome scan or a genetic genealogy test, but it’s still a DNA test from the drug store shelves. Soon you will be able to purchase a paternity test from Rite-Aid.
The test is being offered by Sorenson Genomics. According to an article from Monday’s New York Times:

“A company called Sorenson Genomics has started selling a paternity test kit through Rite Aid stores in California, Oregon and Washington. It appears to be the first time a DNA test is being sold through a major pharmacy chain.”

“The test, sold under the brand name Identigene, has a suggested list price of $29.99, though a reporter purchased one at a Rite Aid in Santa Monica, Calif., for $19.99. There is an additional laboratory fee of $119 to have the samples analyzed.”

The test comes with three sets of cotton swabs, allowing the collection of DNA from the child, alleged father, and the mother. The NYT article states that the mother’s DNA is optional “but helps strengthen the results.”
Discovering Biology in a Digital World asks: “Would the results from this test be legally binding?” I personally can’t imagine that the results would hold up in court. I think that’s why Sorenson Genomics labels the test as giving “peace of mind.” … Click to read more!

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New DNA Analysis of Native Americans

PLoS Genetics has a new paper (PLoS Genet 3(11): e185. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.0030185) that examines autosomal microsatellite markers (repeating units of base pairs) from Native American DNA:

“We examined genetic diversity and population structure in the American landmass using 678 autosomal microsatellite markers genotyped in 422 individuals representing 24 Native American populations sampled from North, Central, and South America. The Native American populations have lower genetic diversity and greater differentiation than populations from other continental regions. We observe gradients both of decreasing genetic diversity as a function of geographic distance from the Bering Strait and of decreasing genetic similarity to Siberians—signals of the southward dispersal of human populations from the northwestern tip of the Americas”

From the press release, the data shows that:

“Genetic diversity, as well as genetic similarity to the Siberian groups, decreases the farther a native population is from the Bering Strait – adding to existing archaeological and genetic evidence that the ancestors of native North and South Americans came by the northwest route.”

“A unique genetic variant is widespread in Native Americans across both American continents – suggesting that the first humans in the Americas came in a single migration or multiple waves from a single source, not in waves of migrations from different sources. The variant, which is not part of a gene and has no biological function, has not been found in genetic studies of people elsewhere in the world except eastern Siberia.”

HT: Yann Klimentidis’ Blog and … Click to read more!

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AfricanDNA.com – A New Genetic Genealogy Company


Here’s the question: Do people really make “life-changing” decisions based upon the results of a genetic genealogy test? This phrase is often stated but is seldom supported with actual facts or case studies. And I’ve certainly never seen an estimated percentage of people who have made these types of “life-changing” decisions, which would really help further the discussion.

Earlier this month, Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. announced the launch of his new genetic genealogy company, AfricanDNA.com. According to the press release, “the precedent-setting site is the only company in the field of genetic genealogy that will provide African Americans with family tree research in addition to DNA testing.”

The company will offer two tests … Click to read more!

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Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell Spit For 23andMe

I’m sorry if I’ve overloaded you on the recent launches of 23andMe and deCODEme, but I think there’s so much to talk about. For a little lightheartedness, read “23andMe Party” from How to Change the World by Guy Kawasaki. Kawasaki describes a friends and family “Spit Party” hosted by 23andMe, and even has a number of pictures from the event.

The party offered attendees the chance to submit their DNA for analysis at a discounted rate. Some of the attendees included co-founders Linda Avey and Anne Wojcicki, at least one Nobel Prize winner, and celebrities Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell. … Click to read more!

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A Round-Up of Discussions Following the Launch of deCODEme and 23andMe


I have been accused of being a little too thorough sometimes. All things considered, that’s a flaw that I can live with. In the name of thorough, I offer the following review of recent online references to this weekend’s launch of personal genome analysis companies deCODEme and 23andMe. If you’re tired of hearing about the topic feel free to skip this post, but if you’re interested in the conversation that these launches have stimulated, read onward.

Kara Swisher at All Things Digital recently toured the new offices of 23andMe. The article – “Kara Visits 23andMe” – has a brief write-up and three videos. The first video is Ms. Swisher’s tour of the offices and includes an overview of the DNA collection kit and a brief interview with Linda Avey and Anne Wojcicki. The second and third videos are part of a longer interview with Avey and Wojcicki.

My Biotech Life watched … Click to read more!

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Poll – Are You Interested in Genomic Analysis?

Given all the recent activity in the field of personal genomic analysis, I was curious about how the readers of this blog felt about having their own genome analyzed. Here’s a poll that will give me a rough idea – please feel free to vote! If you’re reading this through a feed, you might have to stop by the blog to vote.



… Click to read more!

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GINA: An Update III

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, known in shorthand as GINA, is federal legislation that would prohibit insurance companies from discriminating against an applicant based on genetic information, the refusal to submit genetic information, or for have been genetically tested in the past. The Act, if passed, would also prohibit employers from using or collecting genetic information to make employment decisions. I wrote a GINA Primer in April, if you’re interested in learning more about the Act (here’s the full text of the legislation). The Act, which is currently a bill before the Senate, easily passed the House of Representatives (97% voted aye), and President Bush has said that he would sign the bill into law if it reaches his desk.

In August, I wrote about the stalled status of GINA … Click to read more!

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23andMe Launches Their Personal Genome Service


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I have written a lot about the Mountain View based personal genome start-up company 23andMe (February 14th, April 9th, June 19th, July 31st, and September 13th, to name a few). As a matter of fact, if you google “23andMe”, The Genetic Genealogist is the second result.

Today, announced by an article in the New York Times (“My Genome, Myself: Seeking Clues in DNA”) and Wired (“23andMe Will Decode Your DNA for $1000. Welcome to the Age of Genomics”), 23andMe has officially launched.

If you visit 23andMe, you’ll notice that the site has been completely revamped, and they are now accepting orders for their Personal Genome Service, for $999.

So what does 23andMe offer? According to the company’s Genotyping Section:

“In all, 23andMe looks at more than 500,000 SNPs scattered across the 23 pairs of chromosomes that constitute the human genetic sequence. We also look at a few thousand places on the mitochondrial DNA, an odd loop of genetic material outside the nucleus that is involved in producing energy for the cell.”

23andMe is using the Illumina HumanHap 55+ BeadChip (more information from Illumina), which

“analyzes more than 600,000 SNPs that cover the entire genome. Although this is still only a fraction of the 10 million SNPs that are estimated to be in the human genome, these 600,000 are specially selected because they provide a lot of information about other nearby SNPs. This maximizes the information we can get from every SNP we analyze, while keeping the cost low….In addition, we have hand-picked more than 30,000 additional SNPs of particular interest from the scientific literature and added them to the chip.”

Once a customer’s DNA is analyzed, the information is loaded into the secure database where it can be accessed and viewed by the customer. In the … Click to read more!

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The First Personal Genomic Sequencing Test Offered for $985

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Today, deCODE genetics announced the launch of their consumer genotyping service, deCODEme. deCODEme is the first personal genomics company to launch, and will provide sequencing information about 1 million SNPs for the introductory price of $985. The service has two components:

1. The genotyping of ~1 million SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms, or personal differences in the genetic code), and;

2. A secured website for presenting the data obtained from the sequencing.

The official press release from the parent company deCODE genetics, contains some interesting information about the product:

“Through your subscription to deCODEme, you can learn what your DNA says about your ancestry, your body –traits such as hair and eye color– as well as whether you may have genetic variants that have been associated with higher or lower than average risk of a range of common diseases. This information will be continually updated as new discoveries are made.

“Subscribers will create a secure password-controlled personal account. Just a few weeks after sending in a simple cheek swab, customers will receive expert analysis of more than a million key variants across their genome, accessible through an easy-to-use and intuitive user interface.”

What Does This Mean for Genetic Genealogists?

The SNP chip used by deCODEme – human1M – tests 40,097 loci on the X chromosome, 2,283 on the Y … Click to read more!