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October 8, 2009

23AndMe – Get The Inside Scoop On Your DNA

ss-23andme

If you want to find out what your DNA really says about you, then Google-funded 23andme is the place to start. The name is based on the number of paired chromosomes in human DNA. To get started finding more about your genetic makeup, all you have to do is hand over $399 for a testing kit, spit into a tube a few times and wait for the results. In two to four weeks, you will receive a claim code that allows you to look at your genetic profile online.

This is where the fun starts. 23andme provides a wide range of information on your health and genetic traits. This includes a page listing your predisposition to certain traits, as well as more information about each of them. It’s a good way to find out whether you need to be tested for certain diseases. You can get an overview of your heritage and maternal or paternal lineages. You can help with research and you can compare your traits with others. All of this is possible through a secure, web-based interface.

Practical Uses:

  • Find out your genetic predisposition for certain diseases, even if you don’t know your biological parents
  • Discover whether certain forms of cancer are genetic by testing multiple family members
  • Participate in potentially life-saving research
  • For scientists, find a pool of interested subjects to help advance knowledge of disease

Insider Tips:

  • Use the “Tell a Friend” feature to share specific pages online
  • Be selective about using the genome sharing feature; if you share information with one user, that user may share it with other people
  • Increase the accuracy of your profile by entering the geographical location where your maternal and paternal ancestors originated
  • Make your profile searchable to allow other users of the service to find you

What we liked:

  • The price of the test compares well with other services
  • 23andme provides ratings so you can assess the reliability of research data
  • The gene journal shows how the latest research applies to your genome
  • The disease information page has a wealth of information, including the odds of your contracting the disease

What we didn’t like:

  • Privacy concerns are a real concern with services such as this and there is the possibility that health and life insurance disclosure issues that could arise

Alternatives:

Company Info:

  • Launched: April 2006
  • Privately Held
  • Headquarters: Mountain View, CA
  • Founded by: Linda Avey, Anne Wojcicki
  • Web site: http://www.23andme.com

Costs:

  • $399 per DNA text; there is also a free demo account which uses sample data