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Genetic Genealogy On The NBC Nightly News

DNA Last week the NBC Nightly News had a three-part special series “Who We Are: The Truth About DNA.

The first video, “Genealogy for Sale” (although it is spelled ‘geneology’!!), is a report from chief science correspondent Robert Bazell. Bazell follows a couple who experience genetic genealogy for the first time. He mentions the use of online websites and databases, including Sorenson and Genetree. In the two minutes of the piece, Bazell does a decent job of highlighting some of the benefits and limitations of genetic genealogy. Just below this video on the main page is a ‘web exclusive’ that continues the couple’s story a bit further.

The second video and third videos are interesting, but are not directly related to genetic genealogy. For anyone that might be interested in more, the … Click to read more!

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The Palatine DNA Project

iStock_000000516280XSmall DNA Projects, often affiliated with a genetic genealogy testing company, are used to coordinate the testing and result analysis of individuals that have the same surname, originate from a common location, or have a comment set of ancestors. For example, I’ve started the Bettinger DNA Project for individuals with the “Bettinger” surname. An example of a project that hopes to analyze the DNA of a common set of ancestors is the Palantine DNA Project.

From Wikipedia:

“Around 1709, the Rhineland-Palatinate region between what is now known as Germany and France was highly contested by each side. At least 13,000 residents left for Holland and London. The English sent them on to America where close to 300 families, led by the Reverend Joshua Kocherthal and the Reverend Johann Frederick Hager, settled in the Hudson River Valley, most noticeably in Saugerties, New York.”

According to the Project’s website:

“This Palatine DNA Project welcomes all direct descendants of these brave and hardy men and women. The goal is to determine if and how these families are related and to reunite those families that were split apart during the great exodus from Germany and resettlement throughout the world. DNA testing can make this possible, and this new Palatine DNA Project will coordinate test results from all companies in an effort to reach this goal. Not only will participants learn about their connections to Germany but they will also learn about their very deep roots, the path their ancestors took out of Africa many thousands of years ago that led them eventually to Germany.”

There is more information about the Palantine DNA Project in an article from The Daily Freeman, a small newspaper from that area of New York. It’s a fun article, worth a quick look. Interestingly, as I was reading the article, I recognized the name of a friend that I went to college with. … Click to read more!

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Buick and Ancestry DNA Team Up For A DNA Contest

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Car manufacturer Buick and the Generation Network’s Ancestry DNA have joined together to offer contest winners the “chance to discover your heritage.” To enter this contest, just go to buick.ancestry.com. You’ll also find a short video there about the PBS series African American Lives 2.

Ten first-place winners with receive a free DNA test kit from Ancestry DNA. An additional 1,000 winners will receive a “Family History Kit” which includes a copy of Family Tree Maker Essentials software, a DVD of African American Lives (not sure if it is this year’s or last year’s) and a copy of “In Search of Our Roots: How 19 Extraordinary African Americans Reclaimed Their Past.” I personally would enjoy either prize.

The contest is open to those 18 and over, and ends on March 31, … Click to read more!

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The Family Tree of Blue-Eyed Individuals

iStock_000003075935XSmall Researchers at the University of Copenhagen suggest that a mutation that arose around 6,000 to 10,000 years ago was inherited by every individual who has blue eyes (original study here). This mutation, located within an intron in a gene called HERC2, reduces the activity of a neighboring gene called OCA2. The researchers located the same mutation in 155 blue-eyed individuals from Denmark as well as in 5 individuals in Turkey and 2 in Jordan. From ScienceDaily:

“‘Originally, we all had brown eyes,’ said Professor Eiberg from the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine. ‘But a genetic mutation affecting the OCA2 gene in our chromosomes resulted in the creation of a ‘switch,’ which literally ‘turned of’ the ability to produce brown eyes.”

This is the big question: How do the researchers come to the conclusion that everyone with the blue eye gene is descended from the same blue-eyed individual?

The researchers make this conclusion because 97% of the blue-eyed individuals in their study had the same set of 13 SNP mutations in the … Click to read more!

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Genetic Genealogy is SO Mainstream – More Black History Month Events

black_his08In honor of Black History Month, Anheuser-Busch – through the flagship Budweiser brand – announces a sweepstakes called “Discover Your History” in which a grand-prize winner and three guests will be given a trip to “their ancestral background as determined via genetic testing.” Nine other winners will receive “genetic genealogy testing and ancestral family tree research.”

The testing will be performed by AfricanDNA.com L.L.C., the company founded by Harvard University Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. in conjunction with Family Tree DNA.

From Anheuser-Busch’s press release:

“One of the most basic human desires is to understand who we are and how our family is woven into the broader, historic context of humanity,” said Johnny Furr Jr., vice president, Community Affairs and Supplier Diversity for Anheuser-Busch, Inc. “We at Budweiser are proud to offer a lucky family the chance to embark on this remarkable journey of discovery. We hope to inspire others to use today’s technology to learn about their ancestors and region of origin.”

In addition to the contest, Anheuser-Busch is also partnering with radio host Michael Baisden to offer 20 additional genetic genealogy tests and complete family tree compilations. To win these tests, … Click to read more!

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DNAPrint Genomics to be Acquired by Nanobac Pharmaceuticals

DNAPrintG GenomeWeb Daily News announced on Friday that DNAPrint Genomics is being purchased by Nanobac Pharmaceuticals (I’ve written about DNAPrint here and here, including about their Doggie DNAPrint product). Here is the press release from Nanobac.

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.”

Will DNAPrint/Nanobac continue to offer and develop their autosomal DNA testing products in the face of startups like deCODEme, 23andMe, and SeqWright? I wonder if they’ve seen any decline in business since the launch of these companies. I think DNAPrint/Nanobac will have to implement … Click to read more!

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African American Lives 2

AAL2 According to some sources, genetic genealogy testing rises considerably during February, which is Black History Month (as I wrote about last February). Part of this might be due to last year’s very popular TV show “African American Lives” on PBS. Starting next week (on the 6th) is the first half of the latest version of the show, “African American Lives 2.” I’ll be watching, and I think most of you will be interested in the show as well.

In anticipation of this series, Diverse Education has written an article entitled “The Value of Knowing Where You Come From.” The author of this article, Cassie Chew, recently interviewed me and a few of my quotes made it into the article. The article wonders if there is a possible genetic explanation for behaviors that run in families. For instance, one of … Click to read more!

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Personal Genomics And the DNA Network

the_dna_network_logo The DNA Network was full of news about 23andMe, Knome, and the newly-announced 1000 Genomes Project, which plans to sequence (can you guess?) 1,000 genomes from around the world. The 1GP will “receive major support from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Hinxton, England, the Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI) Shenzhen, China and the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH).” Source.

Here’s a brief roundup of all the latest regarding the 1GP:

New information about 23andMe, including the launch of their new blog, the spittoon:

Other stuff:

  • Scienceroll, “Knome Begins Sequencing First Clients.” Remember that Knome is currently charging customers $350,000 to have their entire genome privately sequenced. As I recently commented at Eye on DNA, I think the price tag is too high in light of recent developments in technology. This is actually amazing, considering that $350,000 would have been a bargain in January 2007. Companies hoping to make money from sequencing are going to learn to act quickly and adapt even faster.
  • SEQanswers.com, “deCODEme opens sample data set, check it out!

And last but not least, are you worried about hair loss? A new company called HairDX offers a test that will examine SNP(s) on the X-chromosome, but the … Click to read more!

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The Latest 23andMe Update

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Here are few of the latest sources of information or discussion about 23andMe:

Mark Fletcher at Wingedpig.com writes about some “23andMe Updates.” Fletcher notes that Andrew Scheidecker has written a program that will extract and download your own raw SNP data from 23andMe (http://www.scheidecker.net/personal-genome-explorer/). Scheidecker writes that the program doesn’t violate 23andMe’s terms of service, but I recommend confirming that for yourself before you use this program. Fletcher also links to Kevin Kelly at the Quantified Self, who writes “23andMe, Alzheimer’s disease, and ApoE.” Kelly notes (as has Fletcher) that the rs1702 and rs4420638 SNPs tested by 23andMe are resulting in “no call” for many individuals. These two SNPs are believed to be associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

HT & the Sheriff has decided to order a test at “Me, Me, Me (and 23).” Stay tuned for the results.

Jay … Click to read more!