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Science

Purchase Your Personal Gene Map 298

Posted by timothy
from the priceless dept.
dstone writes "Craig Venter, Time Magazine's Person of the Year in 2000 has a new hobby: collecting rich people's DNA. Millionaires are lining up to buy their personal gene maps for the cool price of USD$621,500. The process takes a week and you get some insight into your genetic mutations that may correlate with illnesses, cancers, Alzeimer's, etc. Venter is a high profile character in the genetic sequencing scene and the Human Genome Project. More info on him may be found here(1) , here(2), and here(3) . If you had the pocket change, would you give this man your business?"
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Purchase Your Personal Gene Map

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  • by Noose For A Neck (610324) on Monday September 23, 2002 @08:44PM (#4316500)
    ...as to how long it is until someone patents my genes?
  • I know I'd want to know, but what if you find out something that you can't do anything about? Maybe I don't want to know... Good thing I can't afford it.
    • I think this would be one of the best investments a person could make. Too bad it will be all of rich people, which will skew the results of any statistics that could pop out of the research. All super rich people must have a gene or two that supplies an aggressive desire for money, and stupid gold digging mates.
  • by rimcrazy (146022) on Monday September 23, 2002 @08:46PM (#4316509)
    A sucker is born every minute....
    • Actually David Hannum said that about PT Barnum. It all had to do with the "stone giant" that was found. The best part is when they wouldn't sell it to Barnum (or lease it), Barnum made a copy of it and said that his was the original. The link is found here, its actually a pretty humorous read [216.239.51.100].
    • Soon it'll be "A sucker is CLONED every minute."

    • I dont think they are suckers. When you are that rich its worth 10x times that ammount to keep yourself healthy. Personally if i could pay that much i would if it would even give me a small cahnce of not getting as sick.
  • Why so expensive? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Pupp3tM (182264)
    I'm sure it's not that easy to map someone's genes, but hundreds of thousands of dollars? They'd better tell me what kind of cancer I'll get, and when, for that much.
    • Re:Why so expensive? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Rich0 (548339) on Monday September 23, 2002 @09:16PM (#4316703) Homepage
      I haven't been staying current in the field, but sequencing 4 billion bases of DNA is a LOT! Those costs are not really outrageous when you break them down.

      A typical sequencing reaction is good for about 600 bases (well, that actually is a high-end number - but I think Celera has figured things out well enough to make that regularly). Figure you have to sequence at least 12 billion bases since you have to have some overlap on all the fragments in order to assemble them into a singe genome - 3x overcoverage is a very generous estimage. So 12E9 / 600 = 2E7 reactions. Assume you can do one in two hours (which is probably a bit fast) - that means time for 84 reactions in series in one week (not counting the time it takes to assemble it all - corellating all those sequences takes a LOT of CPU). So - 2E7/84 = 238,095 reactions running in parallel at all times. A $100k sequencer can do about 64 at once.

      I am a biochemist - but I've been out of the field for about three years. So those are ballpark estimates based on where things were going back then. As I see it - they would need to commit $372M in capital to get an earnings of $650k per week - a 9% return on capital, and I didn't even figure in the cost of the reagents and all the robotics it takes to prep the samples, let alone the janitor that sweeps the floors at night. Now, if there has been a 10-100x increase in sequencing throughput in the last year or two I could believe that this is feasible, but it seems a bit far-fetched. Definitely a Craig Ventner idea...

      Then again, that people are even talking about this is very amazing. Keep in mind that only a few years ago they were expecting that the Human Genome still would be undone today - they've been working on it since the '80s. Craig came in and said he'd beat the NIH to the punch by a few years - they changed their methods to come in at a close tie. Now we're talking about being able to do the whole thing in a week. A few years ago the first bacteria was sequenced at less than 1 million bases - and that was BIG news - it took years of work if I recall correctly. At the peak of the Human Genome race Celera was doing one of those each day and then some - mostly because of an ENORMOUS investment of capital as well as a few technology advances.

      This makes me wonder if they will make the customers sign a release to giving Ventner access to statistical data within their genome. One question the completed Human Genome did not answer is how genes vary from person to person - and the only way to answer that question is to sequence lots of genomes. If Ventner can get others to pay for the work and then patent the results that would certainly be a good business move.

      • I'm amazed that they can do it in a week, in a facility which they say cost about US $40 million to build. That's a lot of chemistry.

        On the other hand, correlating the sequences shouldn't be too bad computationally, now that there's an overall map to fit them to. Building the initial map from pieces was a harder job.

        Having full sequences of a number of individuals for comparison is going to be very interesting. Now there's something to compare.

      • This makes me wonder if they will make the customers sign a release to giving Ventner access to statistical data within their genome. One question the completed Human Genome did not answer is how genes vary from person to person - and the only way to answer that question is to sequence lots of genomes. If Ventner can get others to pay for the work and then patent the results that would certainly be a good business move.

        Well, yes, this gets to the heart of the matter. Now that they have sequenced the whole thing for at least one human, the real interesting question is how it varies, and then of course how those variations relate to physical traits, diseases, resistence to disease, and so on. I'm sure they want access to the whole thing, not just the statistics. Once you have enough of them, you can start to map variations.

        One thing that I'm a little unclear on from the reports. Are they actually sequencing the whole thing, or just the sections that are parts of genes (i.e. code for proteins). I always understood it to be the former, including all the vast areas that do not code for anything (that they know of). I've always been curious to know if these areas code for other things.

        It's not such a stretch to immagine that these areas contain what we engineers would call "out of band" data that could relate to developmental sequencing or even generational memory (ok, maybe that's a stretch, but possible).

        Just by having the entire sequences of a large number of individuals would make some explorations of this data possible just as pure data. If you find out of band areas that are near identical in all people, that would be a strong indication that it codes for something important.

        • Re:Why so expensive? (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Rich0 (548339)
          This is a fascinating topic in itself - what does the DNA which doesn't code for protein do? The majority of your DNA doesn't actually code for protein.

          I am not sure what this new service is going to sequence - the articles suggest it is the whole shebang, but it could just be the expressed portion. If you start with mRNA instead of DNA when making up the clones that are sequenced, you end up just sequencing the coding portion of the genome - which is a LOT less work (again, by far most of your DNA does not code for protein). The actual Human Genome Project and the Celera effort sequenced the whole thing.

          We already know that some sequences of DNA are regulatory in nature - they are sequences that proteins bind to to increase to decrease the rate of gene expression. There are also sequences the DNA replication machinery bind to when copying the DNA. There are highly repetitve sequences which have more topological purposes - such as telomores and centromeres. (The method used to copy DNA cannot copy the very end of a strand, so your chromosomes have regions at the end called telomeres which are repetitive so that nothing "important" is ever near the end of a strand. Centromeres are the region at the center of a chromosome where two halves of an X-shaped replicated chromosome meet).

          I'm personally curious as to how all this "junk" DNA fits into DNA topology. Your DNA isn't just a big long line - it looks more like a tangled phone cord. The most tightly tanged portions are inaccessible by the machinery of the cell that expresses DNA - so it is essentially shut off. I wouldn't be surprised if the sequence coposition of DNA on a large scale influences the overall topology of a chromosome. Bottom line is that we are nowhere close to solving some of the most interesting questions of genetics.

          I wonder when the day will come that you can compile source into a genome just like you compile into machine language today. Imagine having a glibbacteria.so to reference which does all your organism housekeeping functions. You would just write some code to make an organism do something useful, make a statically-linked executable, and then input it into a as-yet-hypothetical large DNA synthesizer. Insert into cell and you have a new organism...

      • "A close tie" (Score:3, Informative)

        by anomalousman (316636)
        Actually, the constant media harassment was irritating them, so the two parallel (public/private) projects declared the gene to be sequenced BEFORE either project was complete.

        The enormous media frenzy that happened as a result took up some extra time, but enabled them to get back to the science in peace - with extra funding in several cases.
  • Neat (Score:3, Interesting)

    by whereiswaldo (459052) on Monday September 23, 2002 @08:47PM (#4316517) Journal
    That's neat. If you charge for a service, people line up for it.
    If the government mandated that you had to let them figure out your genome, people would scream.

    Are these millionaires naive enough to think that a copy of their data will not be kept somewhere?
    • On slashdot, everything is a slipery slope

      (joke!! - sorta)
    • Re:Neat (Score:5, Interesting)

      by bmetzler (12546) <[moc.evil] [ta] [relztemb]> on Monday September 23, 2002 @09:04PM (#4316637) Homepage Journal
      Are these millionaires naive enough to think that a copy of their data will not be kept somewhere?

      What difference does it make whether their data is kept somewhere or not? More to the point, wouldn't they want a copy of their dns on file somewhere?

      Imagine if I had a medical emergency. I'm going to die. Someone needs to make a life or death decision fast. It could save me or kill me. What to do, what to do, what to do? But if I had my DNA on file somewhere, just look it up, and the decision is made.

      I think that it should be mandatory for everyone to have their DNA on file. Imagine the benefit it would provide for not only medical emergencies, but even criminal investigations, and other things.

      -Brent
      • Someone needs to make a life or death decision fast.

        Oh, and I'm sure that this information would be readily available to anyone that could save your life, and that they would be able to procure the information in time. If the decision is needed so fast, I'm doubtful anyone could get through all the red tape in time. And as for doctors ... they already have a chart of your medical history, what good is your DNA genome going to be?

        I think that it should be mandatory for everyone to have their DNA on file. Imagine the benefit it would provide

        Imagine the privacy it would violate. Countless examples of misuse of data have already been provided. Let's not give the government any more information than we have to, ok?

      • Let's try something:

        What if the police could enter your home, and search through your house at any time, for any reason...
        Imagine the benefit it would provide for not only medical emergencies, but even criminal investigations, and other things.

        Just as in your example, it would trample all over our freedoms, and provide practically no medical benefit. How is your DNA going to help a doctor determine that you were just bitten by a diamond back rattlesnake? How would your DNA help a doctor determine that you've been malnourished?
      • But if I had my DNA on file somewhere, just look it up, and the decision is made.

        Look up what?? "Ah yes - AGACTGAC, at bp 180,023,982 on chromosome one, this one's a goner I'm afraid."

        The medical industry is nowhere near being able to meaningfuly apply individual sequencing data. Especially in any sort of "life or death decision, fast" situation.

        I get the odd feeling that most people here have a very vague idea of how these things work in real life...

  • Well. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RaboKrabekian (461040) on Monday September 23, 2002 @08:47PM (#4316523) Journal
    While this is neat and all, and it was an inevitable use of the technology - does this scream "Gattaca" to anyone else? How long before we're doing this for unborn fetuses, and aborting those with serious defects? Or choosing among the choicest embryos?

    • Re:Well. (Score:5, Funny)

      by delta407 (518868) <slashdot@nOSPAM.lerfjhax.com> on Monday September 23, 2002 @08:52PM (#4316554) Homepage
      How long before we're doing this for unborn fetuses
      Yeah, but how many unborn fetuses have six hundred thousand dollars?
      • Yeah, but how many unborn fetuses have six hundred thousand dollars?

        I think the correct question is how many unborn fetuses have parents with six hundred thousand dollars who'd want to make sure they have a perfect baby.
    • I don't know Gattaca, outside of having the vague notion that it was dystopian. But you might look into an old Heinlein novel called "Beyond This Horizon". He envisions a society that uses this kind of technique, but which is also quite libertarian. (Mind you, he was quite down on genetic modification rather than selection...)

      The technology does not determine the kind of society. It determines the range of kinds of societies. We already have all the technical capability needed to create a truly dystopian society, and we have had it for decades. (We seem to be edging that way, but certainly not at a rate limited by technical capabilities.)

  • by fadeaway (531137)
    ..there's still no gene for fate.
  • by wmspringer (569211) on Monday September 23, 2002 @08:48PM (#4316528) Homepage Journal
    Now here's something you don't want your insurance company getting their hands on....

    Increased risk of cancer? Sorry, not covered...

    Increased risk of alcoholism? Those driver's insurance premiums just doubled..
  • "Ever wonder which hollywood stars and starlets share common sequences?" Oprah's grandmother's dirty little secret!" "THE RICH AND POWERFUL: Genetically Inclined?"

    no thanks
    • > "Ever wonder which hollywood stars and starlets share common sequences?" Oprah's grandmother's dirty little secret!" "THE RICH AND POWERFUL: Genetically Inclined?"
      >
      >no thanks

      OK, I wouldn't pay $600K for it, but I'd pay $60 to get a few gigs of data and type:

      $ cp /home/Tackhead/genemap /home/h0tbabe/genemap

      As a geek and heavy Slashdot reader, I'm reasonably confident that this is the only way my genes will ever propagate.

      (Hell, this is the only kind of gene propagation I'm interested in. Who the fsck wants to deal with a squalling brat with p00py diapers when there's fragging to be done, dammit? Think lifestyle issues, man, lifestyle! :-)

  • Interesting, but.. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by JJAnon (180699)
    Like the article says, there are no real practical uses for this. All that you get out of it is a long sequence of ATGCs which are pretty useless. I say useless because genes only show a predisposition towards certain diseases, but do not guarantee actually GETTING the disease. A complete health checkup would probably accomplish the same, at a drastically lower cost.
    • "Like the article says, there are no real practical uses for this."


      Except suckering rich people out of $600K and getting to get your own private copy of their DNA.

  • Discoveries? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Galahad2 (517736) on Monday September 23, 2002 @08:50PM (#4316539) Homepage
    What happens if this guy finds the cure for cancer in your DNA? Is it your property? Same goes for lesser things, like a really good example of a gene. Is furthering the scientific community not optional?

    And the same question goes for if someone gets your DNA from a hair you dropped, and makes some discovery through that. What rights do you have over your own genetic makeup?
    • I'd imagine that if someone found something like the cure for cancer in your DNA, you'd lose your rights to it pretty quickly (assuming you ever had them). It would seem to me that for the good of everyone else in the country (world for that matter) the government would use something along the lines of immiment (sp mistake I know) domain. And in that case more power to them, if I couldn't get my cancer cured because some asshole wanted a million dollars a pop I'd be pretty pissed.
  • The neat thing is, the price of this can only come down. I can't see it being cheap enough to be covered by health care (in countries that have such a beast), but imagine being able to plonk down $5000 or so to have your genome mapped - you could then know what to expect not only in your life, but what to expect for your children, especially when both you and your spouse have the same test done. I firmly believe that pre-emptive medical scanning - that is, determining and eliminating the possibility of a given illness before it occurs - will be one of the major scientific breakthroughs of our time.
  • They're really paying for is the true origin of their penile size. Is it really a product of nature or nurture...
  • If you had the pocket change, would you give this man your business?
    Hell, if I just had $621,500 lying around, there isn't much I wouldn't spend it on!
  • by Cef (28324)
    Just wait till the price drops and it becomes commonplace. The huge potential for discrimination by employers is frightening.
  • by raehl (609729) <raehl311&yahoo,com> on Monday September 23, 2002 @08:52PM (#4316553) Homepage
    My girlfriend never forgets my mistakes as it is - the last thing I need is her sending in a hair sample and getting a map to all of my flaws in advance.
    • Many corporate executives who have recently run afoul of the law are taking advantage of a new genome mapping service.

      Said former Enron exec Kenneth Lay, "This genome service became available just in time. Now when I meet with federal prosecutors the next time around, I can point right to the DNA sequence on my 12 chromosome and definitively say 'You see that sequence there? That's the one that made me do it.'"

      The RIAA is also expected to use the service on a random samping of students from college campuses. "We believe that our study will show that 98% of college campus residents possess a gene which almost guarantees they will download pirated music if stringent Digital Rights Management software is not installed on their computers," said RIAA rep Anna Hacker.

      But the service could be a boon to some college students as well - while family clout already goes a long way to getting students with good surnames into school, the service could also be used to show that students can skip the four year process altogether. "I had a rough time last year," said Ralph Perot, grandson of billionaire and former presidential candidate Ross Perot. "With this new service, for a mere couple of hundred thousand dollars, I can show that my genes will inevitably lead me to be at least a millionaire and I should just get my degree now." Some experts caution that such evidence may also be directly tied to the timing of the elder Perot's death and the pricise language of his will.

  • Sim Human (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bongholio (609944) on Monday September 23, 2002 @08:52PM (#4316556)
    Now we just need Sim Human... Load up your genome, make a few mutations, splice in some celbrity sequences, hit go, see how you woulda turned out.
    • Load up your genome, make a few mutations, splice in some celbrity sequences
      You forgot a step:

      Post picture to hotornot.com

  • Hmmm... so for a lot of money, I can find out whether or not I'm predisposed to a whole bunch of diseases they haven't figured out how to cure yet....

    I think I'll stick with ignorance for a while.

    It does make me wonder, though: if I can get my own gene map for the right price, can my insurance company do that too? Shades of Gattica..

  • The only usefulness that they might get out of it is the gene to make millions in the stock market but who would want a fat balding clone who has your bad habits?? I already got my gene codes, I want a upgrade Damnit! Now maybe Britney Spears' That would be worth paying for.
  • by HashDefine (590370) on Monday September 23, 2002 @08:56PM (#4316581) Homepage
    My approx 30000 genes (PDF!) [stanford.edu] are divided up thus

    1200 genes - beer drinking

    1568 - code (as in source code!)

    97 - Pizza Eating genes

    14 - Project Management

    and the rest 27219 are in a gene pool to be used in case more beer background worker genes or background code genes are required.

  • Hmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by zurmikopa (460568) on Monday September 23, 2002 @08:59PM (#4316600) Homepage
    I plan to release my DNA under the gpl.
    Feel free to fix me and release additional copies into the public domain.
    • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Funny)

      by jmv (93421) on Monday September 23, 2002 @09:53PM (#4316892) Homepage
      I just found a security hole in your DNA, I strongly suggest you apply a patch as soon as it is released. This patch will fix a vulnerability to the "AIDS" worm that's curently spreading. This worm spreads through many ports (mostly ports 6100d and 53x). In the mean time you can reduce the risks by downloading the "latex" utility.
    • I just hate to think where I need to install you...

      Can I install you into my cat?
      • by jmv (93421)
        Reminds me of the old "how does a UNIX guru have sex" joke:
        unzip ; strip ; touch ; finger ; mount ; fsck ; more ; yes ; umount ; sleep
    • If we fix you, I doubt you'll be seeing any additional copies of yourself...
  • ... if I had that kinda "pocket change", with the change from the OTHER pocket, I'd be one of those people who do stupid overclocking experiments with supercoolers every other day just to burn up a processor! =)

    --j
  • We may soon ve able to weed out those with the CEO gene and protect the economy of the future.
  • Money is no object (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tmark (230091) on Monday September 23, 2002 @09:03PM (#4316629)
    I just can't believe how amazed people here are that someone would charge $621K or whatever to have their genome mapped. This is something that had not even been done for any human barely 2 years ago, and then only at the HUGE expense to governments all over the world, and now you can get it done for less than a million dollars ? Do these people realize how immense is the enterprise they can buy now, for less than a lot of houses that dot-commers were buying in the Bay area that same 2 years ago ?

    And many of these are the same people who probably ooh-and-ahh at anime cels costing tens of thousands of dollars, or who dream of plans spending tens of thousands of dollars wiring their house with the latest optical-this and wireless-that.

    People have spent far more money in far sillier ways.

    • I just can't believe how amazed people here are that someone would charge $621K or whatever to have their genome mapped. This is something that had not even been done for any human barely 2 years ago, and then only at the HUGE expense to governments all over the world, and now you can get it done for less than a million dollars ? Do these people realize how immense is the enterprise they can buy now, for less than a lot of houses that dot-commers were buying in the Bay area that same 2 years ago ?
      The reason people are amazed that folks are paying over $600,000 for this is that it has no value for the vast majority of them. You can't definitively say when you're going to die, what diseases you're going to get or whether your kids will be criminals based on this. It has value to the scientific community, but none to the people who are paying for it.

      What are they going to do? Put it up on their mantle and point to it when they have company? That's exactly why most of them are doing this:

      "You know... that's my DNA over there. Yeah. Had myself sequenced... because... I'm cool like that. Yeah. Did I ever tell you about my plan to replace the Internet... with modems? Yeah."

    • Agreed, its no secret that people growing up in the information age are pretty cynical when it comes to technological advances. If it isn't cheap and effective and available with overnight shipping or instantly downloadable then it might as well not exist for them. I know this is a good sized generalization, but taking things for granted is the status quo. I'm still blown away by a lot of 'ordinary' information age marvels like globally-accesible self-publishing and cheap broadband.

      Not to mention any new tech needs early adoptors to pay through the nose so the rest of us can pay next to nothing and take it for granted later. These millionares could buy a really nice yacht or another home with this kind of cash. I think their investments are very much justified. Genome decoding isn't crackpot science, its advancing and this information will simply be priceless once the science matures in the near future.
  • by morcheeba (260908) on Monday September 23, 2002 @09:04PM (#4316639) Journal
    Craig's company Celera was mapping a suposedly anonymous genome, but then craig admitted it was his dna [guardian.co.uk]. As a Celera shareholder [yahoo.com], I wonder if that qualifies as a $600k perk that he got.
  • in the the 21st century.

    We'll experience a revolution in biotechnology and it's ability to give folks longer, healthier lives.

    But many or the treatments will be very expensive.

    At what point does being denied a cure for a disease due to poverty equal being denied the right to life?

    Or do we just accept that the rich will live years, maybe decades, longer than the rest of US?
  • by stuffman64 (208233) <stuffman.gmail@com> on Monday September 23, 2002 @09:16PM (#4316700) Homepage
    Why would I pay for something I already own?

    Sure, it would be nice to know in advance if I am susceptible to getting diabietes like my grandmother, or heart disease like most of my mother's side of the family. However, if I do all I can to be healthy (i.e., not eating junkfood while laying on my couch all day), there is a significantly less chance of my being afflicted by these ailments. Some things could not be prevented, but I already know I have them (depression, bad eyesight).

    If people spend their "pocket change" on this, they may be in for a suprise. They may find that they have the genes for an increased risk of myocardial infarctions (heart attack), but because they have neglected thier health, they may find it hard to change thier lifestyle to a more healthy one. Although many health-related problems cannot be avoided (for instance, Huntington's Disease, which usually doesn't show up untill your 30's), many diseases that you may be high-risk for can be prevented with a proper lifestyle.
    • However, if I do all I can to be healthy (i.e., not eating junkfood while laying on my couch all day)

      I stopped that lifestyle a long time ago, I now sit in my nice comfy armchair while eating junk food, much healthier!
  • by lunaman (412514) on Monday September 23, 2002 @09:19PM (#4316721)
    ...and your employer (or insurance company, bank, credit bureau, department of motor vehicles, Department of Homeland Defense, etc.) will do it for you FOR FREE!

    With or without your permission.

    Perhaps by then someone will offer a service where you can pay your $600K to PREVENT everyone from getting your gene sequence...
  • by geoffeg (15786) <geoffeg@ s l oth.org> on Monday September 23, 2002 @09:37PM (#4316813) Homepage
    How big would the resulting data be? In the meg's, gig's? Would it compress well?

    It would be cool to be able to carry around your own genome on a little CDROM in your wallet or purse.

    Geoffeg
    • by mbessey (304651) on Monday September 23, 2002 @10:10PM (#4316959) Homepage Journal
      Let's see. Three billion base pairs, at approximately two bits of information per base pair = 6 billion bits, or about 750 Megabytes of raw data.

      It'll probably compress very well, since most of the sequences correspond with either Amino Acids or control codes of one sort or another.

      Probably smaller than the source code to your favorite Linux distribution, overall...

      -Mark
  • Imagine how many starving children could be fed if those millionaires donated the $621,500 to charity instead of getting their genes mapped and finding out what illness might kill them.

    Oh well, like it would ever happen.
    • > Imagine how many starving children could be fed if those millionaires donated the $621,500 to charity instead of getting their genes mapped and finding out what illness might kill them.

      Imagine what a wonderful world we'd have if the millionaires of 50-60 years ago had given the money to charity instead of investing in companies that mass-produced cheap effective vaccines against diptheria, tetanus, polio and smallpox.

  • Rumour/IMDB-Trivia [imdb.com] has it that Leelee Sobieski collects locks of hair from major stars appearing with her in films.

    So if anybody wanted to buy themselves a prime bevy of Hollywood DNA to make gene maps from (for whatever nefarious cloney-type purposes) she'd be the person to see. :)

    PS. A clone army of Leelees would be nice too
  • by DeadBugs (546475)
    It would be funny to deliver Bill Gates his "Gene Map" with a restrictive End User License Agreement.
  • You can check out your ancestry [ancestrybydna.com] as coded in your DNA, specifically what percentage Caucasian, African, etc. you are.
  • by glwtta (532858) on Monday September 23, 2002 @11:24PM (#4317204) Homepage
    ... he got paid to sequence his own. Go figure.
  • ... where the Bill Gates' money gene is. Unfortunately, the subsequence that accounts for it probably expresses the lack of business ethics characteristic, as well.
  • A nice comparison (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tfoss (203340)

    I was at a lecture given by Leslie Orgel (a very famous biochemist known for work on the molecular origin of life) and he made a very nice point when asked about the genome project. He likened the sequencing of it to deciphering the white pages of a phone book for a large city. If we ever work out the proteome (the collection of proteins that the genome codes for, along with post-translational modifications, binding partners, etc...which is much beyond what is specified in the genome), then we will have the equivalent of the yellow pages. Yet, even with both of these references, you could only begin to try and understand how the city (and by comparison, the cell) functions.

    So while having your personal genome might be cool in the uber-rich kind of way, the usefulness is still quite limited.

    -Ted

  • It was inevitable... Microsoft makes people pay for their beta's, and now Celera is making people pay to provide them with more information about the human genome, which would have otherwise cost them $600k a pop to sequence out themselves.

    I think this is a good thing, since they will drive down the price, and they will get a broader information base than just Ventner's own genes: what's been sequenced is *a* human genome, not *the* human genome.

    On the privacy side of things, I'd just as soon keep the contents of my chromosomes to myself (particularly 6, 11, 12, 17, 21, and 23), thanks, but that said, I'd like to read it myself and compare it to statistical data, without anyone looking over my shoulder, or writing my name down in a database next to the information.

    -- Terry
  • Not Funny (Score:3, Funny)

    by foo fighter (151863) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @02:55AM (#4317751) Homepage
    I see alot of comments joking about already owning their gene map and about releasing their map under the GPL.

    No, you don't and no, you can't.

    Most of the genes in your body are already patented, trademarked, and/or copyrighted. Those that aren't will be within the next few years.

    We don't own our own bodies.

    I hope that literally scares the shit out of you. It did to me: I locked myself in my bathroom until I could cope with the insanity of some corporation owning the natural devices that construct humans.

    Wired had a very informative article on this some time back. Also, you can Google for the info and you'll find it.

    What really scares me is that I've got at least 80 years left to live. I'm going to be fighting and putting up with a lot of shit before I can finally rest.

    It'd be nice if some of you would give me a hand.
    • I thought that what those biotech companies had patents on was methods for testing for the presence of particular genes. That's markedly different than owning a patent on a gene itself.
  • "There! Now no one can say I don't own John Larroquette's spine!"
  • Because gene analysis is mainly an information enterprise, it will follow Moore's Law and drop a zero in price every five years or so. The first reason is that gene analysis is computer intensive. Celera and the Human Genome Project own some of the largest computer complexes in he world for reassembling shotgun gene pieces. Thus gene analysis will piggy back computer advances.
    Second, gene analysis is getting smarter. Coding genes only occupy 2% of the genome. Of this, only 0.1% differs between individual beings. this cuts the analysis problem from 3.2 billion bases to about 100,000 bases. Mapping which 100,000 bases are important is the next stage of technology.
    In summary, instead of a month and $600K, in 20 years your should do this in an hour for $50.

Physician: One upon whom we set our hopes when ill and our dogs when well. -- Ambrose Bierce

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