Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation to Protect DNA Samples Using Biomatrica’s Room Temperature Storage

From today’s press release:

Biomatrica today announced that the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation (SMGF) will use Biomatrica’s SampleMatrix room temperature storage technology to archive its DNA samples.

SMGF will use the SampleMatrix technology in place of ultra-low-temperature freezers for the long-term storage of all newly collected samples. In addition, SMGF will move its collection of previously archived samples from freezers to room temperature storage.

“SMGF has an extremely valuable collection of DNAs, and we have been very concerned about the long-term storage and preservation of the collection,” said Scott Woodward, executive director of the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation. “Biomatrica has developed a product that we feel addresses our concerns in a very practical, economical and secure way.”

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Family Tree DNA Discovers Y-DNA Signature That Might Represent the Prophet Mohammed

DNA An article in the United Arab Emirate newspaper The National (wikipedia) does a terrific job of highlighting recent research from Family Tree DNA.  The story – “DNA could illuminate Islam’s lineage” – discusses research that has attempted to elucidate the Y-DNA signature of Mohammed.  Although Mohammed did not have a son, he had a daughter who married her paternal second cousin, thus passing to Mohammed’s grandchildren the same Y-DNA.  From the article:

“For almost 1,600 years, the title Sharif, Sayyed, or Habib has been bestowed on Muslims who have been able to trace their roots back to the Prophet Mohammed through intricate family trees, oral histories and genealogical records. But now an American DNA lab says it may have identified the DNA signature of descendants of the Prophet Mohammed, and perhaps the prospect of a direct, more accurate means of confirming or identifying such a connection.”

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GeneTree and Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation Team Up to Offer Y-DNA Participants of SMGF Database a Greatly Reduced Price on Genetic Profile

SALT LAKE CITY (May 26, 2009) – GeneTree and Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation (SMGF) today announced a special offer to the tens of thousands of men who donated their Y-DNA samples and pedigree information to the non-profit SMGF’s genetic genealogy database. At a deeply discounted price, participants now may access their Y-DNA profiles through GeneTree and employ the site’s extensive tools, including the SMGF database, to search and connect with genetic relatives.

SMGF has been building the database-the world’s most diverse collection of genetic genealogy information-since 2000 through donation of DNA samples and four-generation genealogy questionnaires by people interested in helping the foundation succeed in its goal of connecting the human family through genetic genealogy. Until the launch of GeneTree in Oct. 2007, SMGF did not have a way to provide participants with their genetic profiles in a meaningful form. Now for $49.50, or about one-third of the typical price, SMGF participants can receive their Y-DNA profiles through GeneTree.

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The Mystery of Benjaman Kyle (Powell?) – An Update

image In January I wrote about Benjaman Kyle, an amnesiac who was found on August 31, 2004 next to a dumpster behind a Burger King in Richmond Hill, Georgia.  In that post, “Using Genetic Genealogy to Solve the Mystery of Benjaman Kyle,” I suggested that a Y-DNA test might be helpful in elucidating Mr. Kyle’s biological surname.  Y-DNA testing has shown to be highly useful for identifying unknown surnames (see here and here), and so I contacted Mr. Kyle to suggest the possibility.

The Results Are In

Shortly thereafter, Mr. Kyle took a 67-marker test from Family Tree DNA.  The results, announced it seems by Kimberly Powell of Kimberly’s Genealogy Blog, suggest that his surname might actually be POWELL or a variant thereof.  His results are now part of the Powell Surname DNA Project as kit #140314 where he very closely matches the “Joseph Powell Group.”  See more here.  From Kimberly’s post:

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Pathway Genomics Testing Kit

Pathway Genomics, a new DTC genetic testing company that I discussed earlier at “Pathway Genomics Goes Live,” has begun sending out test kits.  The following quote and picture are from “DishyMix: Susan Bratton Podcasts & Blogs Famous Executives”:

“I Twittered a week or so ago that my friend, Chris D’Eon is a founder of Pathway Genomics and I was going to get my DNA tested. I got a lot of response to that one little Tweet, so I thought I’d share more with you about it.”

Pathway Genomics

Disclosure: I am currently a consultant for Pathway Genomics.

Personal Update:

I also wanted to let everyone know that my second son was born 3.5 weeks ago, and yesterday I graduated from law school.  It’s been a crazy few weeks, and now it’s time to start studying for the NY bar before starting work full-time in the fall.  Wish me luck!

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Knome Lowers Price of Full Genome From $350,000 to $99,000

imageI’ve talked about the personal genomics company Knome here at TGG a number of times.  The company is one of the few, if not only, entity offering customers the opportunity to receive their entire genomic sequence.  After paying for sequencing, customers receive their genetic sequence on an 8-gigabyte USB drive in an engraved silver box.  The USB is encrypted and contains special genome browsing software (KnomeXplorer).

The Cost of Sequencing Crashes

According to an article at MSN Money entitled “$99,000 to see your future?,” Knome recently lowered the price of sequencing from $350,000 to $99,000.  This isn’t very surprising considering how quickly the cost of sequencing is dropping.

From the article:

“Just to give you some context, the U.S. government finished sequencing the first genome in 2003, and it took 13 years and about $3 billion,” says Jorge Conde, the 31-year-old CEO of Knome. “We’re now at the point that we can do it for $99,000 in three months. Our goal is to eventually be able to offer this to a large segment of the population for around $1,000.” (Just a year ago, Knome was asking $350,000 for its services.)

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Pathway Genomics Goes Live

imageThe newest entrant in the field of personal genomics has officially gone live.  Pathway Genomics, located in California, uses SNP testing to examine information about Health conditions, Ancestry, Carrier Status, Personal Traits, and Drug Response.  The company collects DNA via a spit kit, and has its own lab on-site:

We decided early on that the surest way to completely secure your information would be to build our own CLIA-certified laboratory. And that’s just what we did. Once we receive your saliva sample in our lab, your DNA never leaves the building. As a matter of fact, we place it in our proprietary DNA Lockbox for safekeeping. No other DNA testing firm offers this level of security. Others send your DNA elsewhere for testing, even to non-secure overseas locations!

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Genome Hacking at The New Scientist

Journalists Peter Aldhous and Michael Reilly write about using DNA obtained from a drinking glass and other sources to “hack” someone’s genome.

In “Special investigation: How my genome was hacked,” the authors use a variety of consumer-available DNA services to prepare and amplify genomic DNA in order to send it away for analysis by deCODEme.  They used deCODEme, it appears, because 23andMe and Navigenics use saliva collection, and “it would be hard to convert [the] amplified DNA sample into a form that closely mimicked saliva.”  They did use 23andMe, however, as a control.  Interestingly, the cost of the entire process was about $1,700 for lab services (preparation and amplification) and $985 for deCODEme’s service.

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5th International Conference on Genetic Genealogy for Family Tree DNA Group Administrators

On March 14th and 15th of this year, Family Tree DNA hosted the 5th Annual Conference on Genetic Genealogy.  From the press release (pdf):

Each year, world renowned experts in genetics and science present cutting-edge developments and exciting new applications at this two-day educational forum which draws attendees from Family Tree DNA’s Group Administrators in North America and throughout the world. Among the speakers at the upcoming conference will be Dr. Spencer Wells, the director and population geneticist heading the National Geographic’s landmark Genographic Project as well as members of Family Tree DNA’s own highly respected scientific advisory board.

The schedule of the conference can be found here.  Unfortunately, I was not able to attend the conference this year, although I certainly hope to attend the next conference. 

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Genetic Testing With 23andMe – Ancestry Testing

Yesterday I posted about my recent testing experience with 23andMe, focusing on the health and traits information.  This post examines the genealogical aspects of testing at 23andMe.

Ancestry Information

Although I was interested in the health and traits information, I was most excited about the ancestral information.  23andMe’s test looks at mtDNA, Y-DNA, and autosomal coverage.  I believe that the company is working to report on ancestry of the X-chromosome, but as I have previously reported X-DNA ancestry can be extremely challenging.

This was my second foray into autosomal DNA testing.  In 2003 I purchased an AncestrybyDNA 2.0 test from DNAPrint Genomics.  The test looked at 71 Ancestry Informative Markers (AIMs) to determine percentages of Indo-European, East-Asian, Native-American, and African ancestry.  It is worth noting that before AncestrybyDNA went out of business (more info here), the company was offering more advanced tests that examined as many as 1,700 markers (still far below the number of markers used to quantify percentages at 23andMe and deCODEme).

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