So by now you’ve no doubt heard that on November 22, 2013, the Direct-to-Consumer genetics testing company 23andMe received a uncharacteristically biting letter from the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”), a federal agency that protects public health by monitoring and regulating various products such as food, medicine, and supplements.
In the letter, the FDA expresses its belief that the 23andMe Personal Genome Service (“PGS”) is a medical product because “it is intended for use in the diagnosis of disease or other conditions or in the cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, or is intended to affect the structure or function of the body.” Accordingly, the FDA concludes, the PGS requires “premarket approval or de novo classification” by the FDA.
The 9th International Genetic Genealogy Conference for Administrators is currently being held by Family Tree DNA in Houston, Texas. As they try to do every year, there have been several buzz-worthy announcements already.
Family Tree DNA has announced the new Big Y test:
Here are some of the basics about the new Big Y test:
- 10 million bp sequenced
- ~25,000 SNPs
- Cost = $495 until December 1, 2013, then $695.
The “Y-DNA SNP testing chart” page at the ISOGG wiki has already been updated to reflect the Big Y test.
For more about the test, see these great posts:
“9th Annual International Conference on Genetic Genealogy – Day 1
” – at Ancestor Central by Jennifer Zinck
“The new Big Y Test from Family Tree DNA
Understanding the complexities of autosomal DNA can be very challenging for newbies.
However, there are a few basic tenets that I believe can help these newbies. These tenets are essentially tools that newbies can use to analyze an autosomal DNA problem for themselves.
For example, here are the two very basic tenets that I typically introduce in my autosomal DNA lectures especially for the newbies:
- You only have to go back about 5 generations to start losing ancestors from your Genetic Family Tree.
So many of the issues that newbies run into can be resolved or prevented through understanding of these concepts.
The Coop Lab
The lab of Graham Coop, an associate professor in the Department of Evolution and Ecology at UC Davis, maintains a blog where they often discuss genetics. Today they published an interesting blog post entitled “How much of your genome do you inherit from a particular ancestor? In the post, they perform a handful of different analyses using data they had for one generation of transmissions which was compounded over multiple generations.
23andMe today launched the African Ancestry Project, which has been in the works for some time now. Participants in this project will receive 1 free 23andMe kit.
The project aims to shed light on the health and ancestry of people with African ancestry, an underrepresented group in almost every database (both genealogical and health-related.
Participants in the African Ancestry Project will receive 1 free kit per family, if they are eligible. Eligible individuals must:
- Have four (4) grandparents from the same sub-Saharan African country;
- Be at least 18 years of age;
- Have Internet access, be willing to take an online survey about ancestry and provide a saliva sample;
- Live in the United States in a state that allows 23andMe shipping. (i.e., not Maryland)
There has been much discussion (see here and here for a few examples) of the so-called “Scandinavian Problem” with AncestryDNA‘s ethnicity estimate, in which certain populations appeared to be over-represented in the reference panel utilized by Ancestry.com. I, for example, have no documented Scandinavian ancestry, but had 78% Scandinavian. Many others experienced the same issue.
The AncestryDNA team were well aware of the issues, and have been working on an update to their ethnicity algorithm, reference panel, and user interface. Indeed, at “The First DNA Day at the Southern California Genealogy Society Jamboree” in June of this year, Ken Chahine (Senior Vice President and General Manager, DNA) gave a presentation in which he announced that the ethnicity calculations at AncestryDNA were undergoing a complete overhaul and a major update would be provided to all customers later this year.
So here I am, sitting at the airport waiting for my first flight on the long journey back to NY from the first ever Family History and DNA Day at the Southern California Genealogy Society Jamboree.
The event was an incredible success, with stellar speakers, inspiring and entertaining talks from Spencer Wells and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and excellent organization and execution.
Below is just a brief summary of the highlights I believe are worth mentioning, but be sure to check out other posts that have or will come out soon, including this one from The Legal Genealogist, and this one from Dick Eastman.
(A side note: as I was sitting in the airport waiting for my flight from Newark to San Francisco, I looked up and saw a familiar face – Judy Russell from The Legal Genealogist! We shared the next two flights, although Judy was furiously dealing with an unfortunate hack attack on her website, which has since been resolved).
Interested in learning about the unique inheritance of the X chromosome through the use of some cool visual charts? Look no further:
And be sure to check out Debbie Parker Wayne’s great charts at “X-DNA Inheritance Charts“!
Yesterday, Family Tree DNA announced that their 12-marker Y-DNA test, normally $99, will be only $39 for a limited time only (until February 28, 2013). Although I typically will recommend a minimum of 37 markers to clients and readers, this is a great way to get someone’s DNA into FTDNA’s system for future upgrades. For example, I have at least two lines of my family that I’ve been wanting to get tested, but it’s really just for curiosity’s sake rather than any pressing genealogical question. This would be the perfect opportunity for this type of testing.
See what others have written about the sale:
From the Press Release:
HOUSTON, Feb. 20, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — FamilyTreeDNA.com, the genetic genealogy arm of Gene By Gene, Ltd., is dramatically lowering the price of one of its basic Y-DNA tests to $39, making it the lowest-cost DNA test available on the market, in order to take a major step toward universal access by individuals to their personal genetic data.
Wouldn’t it be fun to review detailed proposals about new genealogy projects and be able to provide funding to support those projects that you think are especially worthwhile?
Crowdfunding might be one way to do just that. For those not familiar with “crowdfunding,” it is essentially a way for people to contribute a varying degree of money to a project they are interested in, usually in exchange for a special perk. Wikipedia describes crowdfunding as:
Crowd funding or crowdfunding (alternately crowd financing, equity crowdfunding, or hyper funding) describes the collective effort of individuals who network and pool their money, usually via the Internet, to support efforts initiated by other people or organizations. Crowd funding is used in support of a wide variety of activities, including disaster relief, citizen journalism, support of artists by fans, political campaigns, startup company funding, movie or free software development, inventions development and scientific research.
I received my results from the Geno 2.0 test from National Genographic tonight. The results align fairly well with what I already know about my DNA. For example, I knew I was haplogroup A2 (a Native American haplogroup), but the A2w is new so I have to do some research there.
Even more interesting is my paternal haplogroup designation. The NatGeo tests lists the terminal SNP instead of a haplogroup that will typically encompass multiple SNPs. I am listed as R-Z306, which is R1b1a2a1a1a3a1 on the current ISOGG Y-DNA tree. However, my results indicate that I am L1+, which is associated with Null439 (I previously knew I was null439). Many believe that L1+ is downstream of Z306+, but these types of questions are exactly what the NatGeo 2.0 test will help determine.