Bennett Greenspan and Max Blankfeld [I apologize for the previous misspelling of Greenspan’s and Blankfeld’s names] of the genetic genealogy testing company Family Tree DNA have launched a new service called DNATraits to examine a customer’s DNA for evidence of genetic disease. According to the website, DNATraits:
“provides direct-to-consumer genetic data from tests conducted on individual DNA samples. DNATraits offers tests that are broader in scope and less expensive than any in the world, complete with a free consultation with our genetic counselors before testing (optional) and a free consultation after testing (required) to discuss your results.”
DNATraits claims that their service is different from other DNA testing companies, as explained in their comparison page. Notably, the process of returning the results to the consumer appears to be different from some other companies: the DNA results are returned to the “DNATraits medical doctor for review and confirmation” before being sent to a genetic counselor. The customer is then emailed and directed to set up a telephone appointment with the genetic counselor. After the consultation, the customer is given direct access to all their test results.
DNAPrint had a big year in 2007 with a number of partnerships and new products, and many people have forgotten or were unaware that the autosomal genetic genealogical tests offered by DNAPrint’s AncestrybyDNA are just a small part of the company’s business. From the Nanobac press release:
“DNAG’s primary objective has been, and Nanobac’s primary objective will be, to develop progressive theranostics drugs, which combine extensively modeled drugs with genomics-derived intelligence to create more economical and powerful drug/test combination products with superior performance parameters. DNAG’s flagship product, PT-401, is expected to result in more effective treatment of anemia, and its Protectin(TM) (CD-59) diagnostic test is expected to allow patients and their physicians to more effectively manage the risks and treatment decisions for diabetes. DNAG supports its clinical programs, in part, through the sale of consumer genetics tests genotyping services on a contractual basis.”
As I recently mentioned, SeqWright has launched a new Personal Genomics Service. Using a saliva sample, this service will analyze 930,000 SNPs from a customer’s genome using the Affymetrix 6.0 Human SNP Genotyping microarray. SeqWright will then report information back to the customer about “Genetic Health,” “Ancestral Origins,” and “Genealogy.” The cost of the service is $998. According to the website, they “will begin accepting orders for Genetic Profiling Services on Monday January 28 2008.” The official press release is available here.
From the consent form available on the SeqWright website:
“SeqWright will generate its clientâ€™s personal genomic data on the Affymetrix 6.0 Human SNP Genotyping microarray. This Array is capable of recognizing approximately 930,000 unique human SNPâ€™s. However, due to individual sample and test variation the number of SNP genotypes that SeqWright will report for a given individual will be a fraction of those SNPâ€™s.”
Jasia of Creative Gene! Jasia’s winning entry was from a post she wrote about the contest. If Jasia accepts the prize, she will discuss her testing experience or her results either on her blog or here at The Genetic Genealogist, which should be a lot of fun and will help genetic genealogy newbies gain some insight into testing. Congratulations Jasia!
If Jasia doesn’t claim the prize, or decides she doesn’t want it, the runner-up for this contest is Yann of Yann Klimentidis’ Weblog.
Thank you to everyone who wrote about the contest on their blog, subscribed to my feed, subscribed to my mailing list, or left a comment at the original post. Overall, 34 people entered the contest with a total of 117 entries! I met some new readers and read some fantastic posts about the blog. At the end of this post is a list of all the blogs that mentioned the contest.
Remember, you heard it here first! The Houston Chronicle appears to have advance news that two companies, Family Tree DNA and Seqwright, are planning to launch products that will analyze DNA for genes associated with disease, similar to services offered by 23andMe and deCODEme. The news is casually mentioned in a news story published yesterday in that newspaper, and on one of the paper’s blogs.
In the first article, “Public Can Get Genes Tested“, there is a quote from Bennett Greenspan, president and chief executive of Family Tree DNA:
“[FTDNA is] betting that public demand will soar for health testing as well, despite the skepticism of some physicians. Greenspan said Family Tree will begin testing for specific disease genes in a month or two. ‘We’ve been peppered with requests from customers for this kind of service during the last 18 months,’ he said.”
Genizon BioSciences, a private firm in Quebec with about 135 employees, has been awarded $31 million from the Dutch venture capital firm Biotechnology Turnaround Fund to uncover associations between genes and diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s.
There are a number of companies concentrating on the correlation between genetics and disease, but the reason that Genizon BioSciences stood out to me is the source of the DNA that the company studies. Genizon uses DNA from descendants of the Quebec Founder Population. This population began with roughly 2,600 individuals who settled Quebec between 1608 and 1760 (although more than 15,000 French had immigrated to Quebec in this period, the vast majority continued to travel westward across Canada) and is estimated to be over 6 million people today. Genizon uses this unique population for a number of beneficial reasons, including:
Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak, one of the founders of Roots Television and the author of Megan’s Roots World recently released a screencast of her husband’s deCODEme results at “A First Look at deCODEme DNA Results.” Megan is the Chief Family Historian of Ancestry.com and is co-author of Trace Your Roots With DNA, and thus is both extremely interested in genetic genealogy and aware of the limitations of this type of DNA analysis. The 17-minute review includes a brief look into the different aspects of deCODEme’s analysis, including health and ancestral information.
VortexDNA today announced the launch of myDNAchoice, a website and Firefox extension aimed at mapping the DNA of “human intention” to help users map their interactions with the internet. Nick Gerritsen, a director of VortexDNA, believes that “this includes better search results, meeting people like you, letting people find you on your favourite sites, and much more–without ever compromising your privacy.”
Although it is a bit confusing, myDNAchoice is a browser tool to help users organize the web based on their interactions with the internet, both previous (reflected in the short survey taken at installation) and future (new surveys taken through time). This browser tool, the company asserts, may result in as much as a 14% increase in search relevancy as compared to Google Search.A user begins by installing the mywebDNA Firefox extension in Firefox:
Three weeks ago, 23andMelaunched their personal genome service. In the meantime, the launch has prompted a great deal of discussion. Additionally, a few of the earliest customers have already received their results. Here are links to some of the most interesting posts regarding 23andMe’s service.
To Be or Not to Be: 23andMe
LaunchSquad received their 23andMe kit in the mail, causing them to ponder the benefits, considerations, and services involved in genetic testing.After introspection, they decide to spit and mail.
Dr. Moran at Sandwalk brought to my attention a recent segment about genetic genealogy on Marketplace called â€œWhoâ€™s Your Grand Daddy?â€Marketplace is a Canadian television program.In his post, Dr. Moran states:
â€œI’m disturbed by the fact that we have a number of prominent bloggers pushing DNA testing. You’d think they would be all over this story. You’d think that they would be in the front lines in the attack on unscrupulous private companies who are overselling the idea of tracing your ancestors through your DNA.If you thought that you’d be wrong. Some of these bloggers are even denying there’s a problem.â€
During the Marketplace segment, Johnna – a woman they interview who is interested in learning more about her ancestry – discovers that she belongs to Haplogroup H.Unfortunately, Johnna had expected to learn more about her ancestry, such as the names of ancestors.It would appear that Johnna did not do any research about genetic genealogy.