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Biotech Science Technology

Two Companies Now Offering Personal Gene Sequencing 146

Posted by Zonk
from the sequencing-for-fun-and-profit dept.
corded writes "Yesterday, deCODE genetics announced the launch of their $985 personal genotyping product, deCODEme (video), beating their competitors to market. Perhaps not coincidentally, 23andMe's website is suddenly much more informative today, and the New York Times features a preview of 23andMe's $999 offering. deCODEme and 23andMe will scan about a million and 600,000 sites across the genome, respectively and assess your risk for common diseases, along with providing information about ancestry, physical traits, and the ability to compare genes with friends and family."
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Two Companies Now Offering Personal Gene Sequencing

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  • Guarentees ? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by drozofil (1112491) on Saturday November 17, 2007 @03:59PM (#21392185)

    What about privacy ? How could one be sure that they don't keep the records in some kind of database ? The possibility to make comparisons with friends/family seems like a pretext to keep that kind of data.

    What about the genetic information that cannot be interpreted as of today ? Will it get stored anyways, leaving future analysis possible ? (Is there a subscription for updates ??

    What kind of questions these sort of tests can answer that you can't answer ? Besides disease detection (I thought there were people specialized in such matters ... like ... doctors ...), what purpose serve the answers ?

  • by aldheorte (162967) on Saturday November 17, 2007 @04:01PM (#21392211)
    People in past discussions mentioned this, but the ability to compare genes with family members may shock more than a few people who do not share as many genetic characteristics with their father and siblings as they thought. Apparently, estimates of conceptive infidelity place the natural rate at a much higher percentage than actually known to the conceived children.
  • This is great! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hikaru2895 (1190419) on Saturday November 17, 2007 @04:08PM (#21392247)
    This is great! But who owns the code? The NY Times article says that you aren't given your code, you have to view it through the company's viewer.

    Also, who owns your genetic code in a larger sense?

    I remember a funny science fiction story, which maybe isn't so funny anymore.

    A football team attempted to patent the genetic code for one of it's star running backs, so they could clone him and assure the success of the franchise forever. When he complained, he was told he should have read the fine print of the contract better...

    The football team's legal team were trumped, when his parents stepped up and proclaimed thier rights as the original creators of this particular bit of intellectual property...

    (i feel inspired to sign up, this is my first post to slashdot, posting is fun!)
  • Re:Not yet (Score:1, Interesting)

    by francisstp (1137345) on Saturday November 17, 2007 @04:17PM (#21392299) Homepage
    Why would you want such a law passed? More information means more efficient market processes.

    People with lower risk pay lower premiums, people with higher risk pay higher premiums.

    This is what the insurance business is all about.

    Insurance companies now have to charge high premiums because they're having a hard time assessing the individual risk levels. When more tools are available to help measure this risk, they'll be able to charge the right premiums, which will be on average lower than what they are now.
  • Re:One step furhter (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Emetophobe (878584) on Saturday November 17, 2007 @04:21PM (#21392333)

    While reading this, it occured to me that making a living organism more intelligent can be an alternative way to silicon-based AI, what's your opinion?

    The movie Gattaca comes to mind.

  • Re:Not yet (Score:3, Interesting)

    by wizardforce (1005805) on Saturday November 17, 2007 @04:31PM (#21392425) Journal

    The next step in addressing the issue of genetic discrimination was taken by President Bill Clinton. The President had earlier supported proposed legislation that would have banned all health plans - group or individual - from denying coverage or raising premiums on the basis of genetic information. When the legislation failed to pass Congress, President Clinton issued an executive order ( Executive Order 13145 to Prohibit Discrimination in Federal Employment Based on Genetic Information) in February 2000 prohibiting agencies of the federal government from obtaining genetic information about their employees or job applicants and from using genetic information in hiring and promotion decisions.
    Suppose you get a genetic test that at the time shows nothing abnormal so you get your insurance coverage, then a few years later it is shown that you do indeed have a risk for a certain disease- you could very well lose your insurance or at the least have to sell a kidney to get any insurance. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_discrimination [wikipedia.org]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 17, 2007 @04:34PM (#21392449)

    Why would you want such a law passed? More information means more efficient market processes.

    People with lower risk pay lower premiums, people with higher risk pay higher premiums.

    This is what the insurance business is all about.

    Insurance companies now have to charge high premiums because they're having a hard time assessing the individual risk levels. When more tools are available to help measure this risk, they'll be able to charge the right premiums, which will be on average lower than what they are now.
    In other words they will exhaustively test every customer, seize upon every little bitty DNA defect they can find, assess it as a potential risk and jack up the premiums? Perhaps I am being paranoid here but I put the insurance industry right beside lawyers and estate agents on my list of blood sucking parasites that I mistrust on principle. Which puts them just a couple of pegs above 419ers, Enron executives, the Bush administration stooges who cooked up the Iraqi WMD evidence and generally all other other low life scam artists.
  • Third that (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 4D6963 (933028) on Saturday November 17, 2007 @05:50PM (#21393047)

    I do too think it's cool, and the search for genes that might pose a health risk sounds like something great for public health. I don't know what it would implicate, but I suppose it might tell you how likely you are to have a certain type of cancer/cardiovascular disease/alzheimer and allow you to stay on the look-out for what you're the most likely to have.

    Actually I hope one day (within the next 20 years) gene sequencing for health purposes will be made systematically for health purposes and stored in a super-high security database that other branches of the government/law enforcement couldn't get to, except of course via a special warrant emitted by a judge. If you think about it, it's not that unfeasible, even now. If there are about 4 million new-borns every year in the USA, and that performing sequencing really costs $1000 (but we can safely assume it actually costs less), then it would cost $4 billion a year, which makes it almost affordable (although probably not worth it, and surely not going to happen anytime soon).

  • Tres Huevos (Score:2, Interesting)

    by PingXao (153057) on Saturday November 17, 2007 @05:52PM (#21393059)
    My new startup will allow parents to sequence the genes of their male offspring to include a third testicle. What better way to increase the odds that your bloodline will survive the coming century of famine and war? And that's only the beginning. It is not government's role to interfere with progress or business, so nobody better try and stop me.

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