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$999 For a Complete DNA Scan, Worth it? 451

DoroSurfer writes "ZDNet is reporting that 23andme.com will open its doors on Monday, allowing you to send them a cheek swab and have your DNA analyzed for $999 (plus shipping, of course... ;)). So what's a thousand bucks buy you? They can tell you your ancient ancestry, They can tell you what diseases you're predisposed to, They give you a "Gene Explorer" that allows you to do a search in your genome to find out if you have a certain gene (e.g., you just heard on the news that Gene XYZ has been linked to Alzheimer's Disease)."
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$999 For a Complete DNA Scan, Worth it?

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  • Somewhat dupey... (Score:4, Informative)

    by darthflo ( 1095225 ) on Monday December 03, 2007 @01:09PM (#21561223)
    This has already been mentioned [slashdot.org], except last time the spotlight was on deCODEme [decodeme.com] by deCODE genetics which offers more details (1m vs. 600k "sites" of the genome) for less ($985 vs. $999).

    I'd love to hear about the results, though.
  • by netelder ( 41 ) * on Monday December 03, 2007 @01:09PM (#21561241)
    deCODEme http://decodeme.com/ [decodeme.com] does this for $985 (intro price) and has the advantage of being based in Reykavic Iceland, out of reach of easy US Govt access. Another (US) company is NaviGenics http://www.navigenics.com/ [navigenics.com].

    Very much worth it if one is interested in learning about and working to minimize one's genetic risks.

  • Re:No. (Score:5, Informative)

    by FalconZero ( 607567 ) * <FalconZero.Gmail@com> on Monday December 03, 2007 @01:17PM (#21561335)
    With regard to being 'worth it'. It's also worth noting that despite the article title, this isn't a complete sequence. 23andMe will scan ~550,000 Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs [wikipedia.org]) out of the (roughly) 10 million SNPs humans have, which is again quite different from a complete sequencing of the 3 billion base pairs in human DNA.
  • by eclaculator ( 1197723 ) on Monday December 03, 2007 @01:17PM (#21561343)
    People frequently confuse microarray SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism) studies with an actual DNA scan that identifies all 3 billion A,C,T and G bases in the human genome. This $1000 option looks at about 2 million KNOWN sites which vary between people. These mutations are not the ones that actually code for a disease, but because they happen to be NEAR the actual ones that do on the chromosomes, it is assumed that if you have the SNP mutation, you will have the disease-prone variant in your genome as well. The problem with this technique is that it only measures variants that we know about, whereas a true complete DNA scan would be the "gold standard" and provide you with the most detailed information possible. Unfortunately, a true DNA sequencing of this variety runs about $100000.
  • by NickCatal ( 865805 ) on Monday December 03, 2007 @01:30PM (#21561529)
    National Geographic has a project called The Genographic Project [nationalgeographic.com] that will take your DNA and trace the ancient travels of your ancestry. It costs $100+S&H and your data is stored along with an anonymous code only you know (before you send it in.) Then the group takes all of the data it gets and puts it all together to further their research.

    The team behind the project has already collected thousands of samples from people worldwide who have interesting lineages (Indiginous people in xyz area) and found out some REALLY cool stuff.

    The $1k thing seems like a privacy nightmare though.
  • Re:Gattaca, anyone? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 03, 2007 @01:35PM (#21561595)
    Or it's just an ironic joke...
  • Re:No. (Score:3, Informative)

    by ed1park ( 100777 ) <ed1park@@@hotmail...com> on Monday December 03, 2007 @01:39PM (#21561631)
    I believe that a full sequence like Watson had could be done for as little as $100,000. If not now, then soon.
  • Re:Gattaca, anyone? (Score:3, Informative)

    by TheoMurpse ( 729043 ) on Monday December 03, 2007 @02:01PM (#21561911) Homepage
    No. It's just a famous graffito from an Austrian subway. Someone had sprayed "God is dead. --Nietzsche" onto a wall. Then, someone else had come by and sprayed "Nietzsche is dead. --God". It's an example of people doing what we consider unconventional things (vandalism) and creating a hilarious display of participatory culture.

    And yes, I said famous. I have a quotes encyclopedia (Yale Book of Quotations?) that even lists it.
  • Re:Gattaca, anyone? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 03, 2007 @02:51PM (#21562615)
    irony ('r-n, 'r-) pronunciation
    n., pl. -nies.

                      1. The use of words to express something different from and often opposite to their literal meaning.
                      2. An expression or utterance marked by a deliberate contrast between apparent and intended meaning.
                      3. A literary style employing such contrasts for humorous or rhetorical effect. See synonyms at wit1.
                      1. Incongruity between what might be expected and what actually occurs: "Hyde noted the irony of Ireland's copying the nation she most hated" (Richard Kain).
                      2. An occurrence, result, or circumstance notable for such incongruity. See Usage Note at ironic.

    It would be ironic if Neitzche was immortal, or that his statement implied he was immortal. As it is, there is no incongruity between Nietzche's death and the existance of god. If you think it's ironic, then you're willfully misinterpreting the statement.

    Willfully misinterpreting a statement is common in jokes, but the gravity of these statements suggest that the misinterpretation (that Nietzche's death undermines his statement) is actually taken seriously. Thus I'm calling him out.

    Of course, you guys seem to base your arguments on things like spelling, so I'll threw you a bone: I didn't correct my accidental misspelling of 'existence' in the previous paragraph, so you can now all talk about how my argument is incorrect and go on reveling about in your idiocy.
  • by maetenloch ( 181291 ) on Monday December 03, 2007 @04:25PM (#21563769)

    Wouldn't they fall under HIPAA since this involves medical testing and records?
    No, because you explicitly give permission for the insurance company to view your medical records as part of your coverage agreement. If you want to keep medical information truly private, pay for it out of pocket.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 03, 2007 @05:07PM (#21564223)

    From what I've seen, the average doctor's 'bedside manner' is pathetic enough that an email can't be that much worse.

    Mr. Jones,

    We've gotten back all of your test results, and I'm afraid the news isn't good. To put it bluntly, she wants you to do something about the lenght of your mem ber. Please click the link below to visit our affiliated pharmacy site....

  • Re:No. (Score:3, Informative)

    by mauthbaux ( 652274 ) on Monday December 03, 2007 @05:08PM (#21564237) Homepage
    I had a longer response to this typed up, but it was nearly incomprehensible. Here are the main points:

    1: There's only about 20k-25k protein-coding genes (ORFs - open reading frames) in the genome.
    2: There's a lot more going on in our cells than we know about. About a third of the mRNA transcripts in a cell can't be adequately explained by our current understanding of transcription.
    3: Of the genetic diseases we know of, they can all (AFAIK) be explained by polymorphisms in the ORFs, or their associated regulatory elements. In other words, point #2 may not be as big of a deal as you'd think.
    4: Sequencing your entire genome is entirely impractical. First, because a complete transcript is nearly impossible (centromeres and telomeres especially, but SINE and LINE elements as well); and Second, because our current tools wouldn't be able to pick out the unexplainable transcripts anyway. Then there's the matter of cost...
    5: Due to the fact that they're targeting SNPs, I'm assuming that they're using a variation of Affymetrix or Nimblegen's microarray technology. SNPs alone won't explain some genetic conditions like Angelman and Prader Willi syndromes, which are due to genomic imprinting rather than coding sequences. (Same mutation, totally different phenotype - the difference is which parent passes the gene on to you). Diseases arising due to methylation or histone modification won't necessarily be detected in a SNP analysis.

    In short, depending on how the SNPs were selected, the 550k may not be as limited as it sounds, and it's a big improvement over other available options. Having the sequence in its entirety may not have any real advantage over just checking the 550k SNPs. As far as privacy concerns go, proceed with caution.
  • No it can't (Score:3, Informative)

    by Goonie ( 8651 ) <robert DOT merkel AT benambra DOT org> on Monday December 03, 2007 @08:37PM (#21566401) Homepage
    Sorry to burst your bubble, but there are no decent treatments for Alzheimer's available yet. There are some drugs that give you a temporary respite, but that's it. There is evidence to suggest that your mind and body exercised helps reduce the chances of developing the disease, but beyond that there's nothing you can do right now.

    It's likely that this will change in the future; sooner or later it's likely that somebody will figure out how to slow down or stop the damage to the brain characteristic of Alzheimer's, and if that was the case it'd definitely be worth knowing that you were on course to develop it. But that's not the current situation.

  • Ownership of company (Score:3, Informative)

    by r2q2 ( 50527 ) <zitterbewegung@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @01:28AM (#21568463) Homepage
    Does everyone know that this company is owned by the wife of Sergey Brin and funded by google? Maybe they want to search your genes next...

Think of it! With VLSI we can pack 100 ENIACs in 1 sq. cm.!