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Biotech Businesses Google The Internet

Google Invests In Genetic Indexing 74

Bibek Paudel point us to a BusinessWeek report on Google's interest in the cataloging and analyzing of people's DNA. Google has recently invested in DNA screening firms Navigenics and 23andMe, which test customers' DNA for characteristics such as ancestry and predisposition for certain diseases. The customers are then able to give the information to their doctors. This is not Google's first foray into the medical industry. "Google wants to plant an early stake in a potentially large new market around genetic data. 'We are interested in supporting companies and making investments in companies that [bolster] our mission statement, which is organizing the world's information and making it universally accessible and useful,' Google spokesman Andrew Pederson says. 'We felt it was important to get involved now, at the early stage, to better understand the information generated by this fast-moving field.'"
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Google Invests In Genetic Indexing

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  • by delvsional ( 745684 ) on Sunday April 20, 2008 @02:26PM (#23135596)
    What if I don't want my medical data to to "universally accessible"?
  • Google DNA Mashups! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by KnowledgeEngine ( 1225122 ) on Sunday April 20, 2008 @02:28PM (#23135612)
    New from Google for 2009 DNA Mashups!

    Just login, choose your favorite DNA Samples (or upload your own), and select the chromosone pairs from the samples you wish to combine!
    Next choose Preview to see what your new organism will look like! Also, upload a base sample for a comparison chart between the original organism and your new lifeform!

    Last but not least our engineers hope to have a special suprise ready by April of 2010. Ordering! We hope to offer both "Retrovirus" for exisiting organism modification, and "Test Tube Compatible" for creating new lifeforms!

    Warning: Google claims no responsiblity for lifeforms based on DNA created with the beta.
  • hehe (Score:3, Interesting)

    by someone1234 ( 830754 ) on Sunday April 20, 2008 @02:31PM (#23135632)
    They are surely the closest to host an awakened AI.
  • Privacy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dreamchaser ( 49529 ) on Sunday April 20, 2008 @03:22PM (#23135974) Homepage Journal
    What really concerns me about Google and MS getting into the medical data business is that they are NOT covered by the HIPPA law (privacy rules). They can data mine your medical data, should they get it, to their hearts content.

    I suggest people in the US contact their Congresscritters about revising HIPPA to cover online web accessible databases.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 20, 2008 @03:26PM (#23136000)
    The way you're talking about it, complete genetic prediction MUST lead to harmful discrimination, which of course is taken to its extreme with Nazi eugenics. You can have your dim view of humanity if you like, but I'd like to explore the possibility that knowing what genetic diseases someone might have _doesn't_ lead to the end of society. If you will, I'm going to take this away from the idea that all knowledge ABOUT you is knowledge used AGAINST you. Maybe a cut-throat society where everyone is out for themselves, as is encouraged by health insurance would have this problem, but what about the _nice_ idea of society, where the government acts in your interests, there's a genuine sense of cohesion between people, and people generally help people who need it. If the right people know about a genetic weakness, they can help with it. A government that acknowledges that most people have some genetic complaint that will appear later in life, and puts the appropriate resources in would be able to give people the support they need, with preventative treatment, lifestyle advice, etc. In summary, knowledge can be used for good or bad, and the constant fear that it will be used for ill is simply the dim view we hold of humanity. Personally, I'm hoping that, if we get the knowledge and technology that used to be considered 'future society', we'll get the appropriate changes in attitudes to go with it.
  • by Scubaraf ( 1146565 ) on Sunday April 20, 2008 @05:15PM (#23136726)
    Seriously - I do genomics research in cancer. We use a variety of tests that generate reams of information. Most academic institutions develop their own overly complicated and highly specialized tools to look at this data. If Google is venturing into the realm of user accessible genetic information, they must be creating simple UI tools for the masses.

    I would love to get in on that aspect of things - either as a consultant or beta-tester. A Google Earth like genome browser is at the top of my wish list.

    ARE YOU LISTENING MR BRIN? If so, drop me an e-mail - seriously!
  • by Prisoner's Dilemma ( 1268306 ) on Sunday April 20, 2008 @05:32PM (#23136826)
    The classifying and storage of all your medical information is already taking place. Read the fine print on most insurance forms you sign. Where it says MIB they aren't taking about the movie.

    The Medical Information Bureau is a private company that almost every insurance company reports your medical information to under the guise of (fraud prevention). The maintain records on everyone and then sell that information to their members. Also interesting, they are classified as a âoeconsumer reporting agencyâ according to FACTA. And, according their website, they are required to comply with FCRA, but Its wholly-owned operating subsidiary, MIB Solutions, Inc., MAY be required to comply with FCRA.

    Also from their website "Most of MIB's codes signify medical conditions. A very few of these indicate risks involving HAZARDOUS AVOCATIONS or ADVERSE DRIVING RECORDS, etc." (These are currently being used to deny insurance to people.)
    "MIB's Security Alert Services is a compliance solution designed to assist insurance and FINANCIAL SERVICES companies in fulfilling their legal obligations under the USA PATRIOT Act - U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and Canada's Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI)" (OFAC, OSFI, PATRIOT Act!!!!)

    For those who think they have some protection under HIPAA. HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, has been publicized as helping to protect your privacy by instituting huge penalties for disclose of medical information. It's a joke. Its definitions of when disclosure of your information are so general that almost anything can be allowed. For 10+ years I was a professional preventer of natural selection. As far as privacy is concerned, there is no HIPAA.

    I don't thing Google will add a feature to street view that shows that the resident has CF or Sickle Cell. I do however think that once the information is in a form where these links could be made, they will be.

Trap full -- please empty.