Personal Genetic Testing

Ok, back to the future of healthcare. I’ve been distracted for some time by the ARRA. If personal genetic testing isn’t the future, I don’t know what is. In any case, the future is now the present.

I recently sent in a DNA sample to one of the industry leaders in personal genetic testing. Once I learned of the service through a colleague, I had to see it for myself. The company is called 23andMe, and is one of the industry leaders in personal genetic testing. They are dedicated to helping individuals understand their own genetic information through DNA analysis technologies and they utilize some pretty cool web-based interactive tools. The company’s Personal Genome Service™ enables individuals like me and you, to gain deeper insights into our ancestry and inherited traits, as well as giving us the opportunity to advance genetic research through participation in 23andMe’s research studies.

As you may have guessed, the name 23andMe refers to the 23 pairs of chromosomes that make up each individual’s genome. 23andMe connects individuals to their unique, paired set of 23 chromosomes.

How does it work? Joining 23andMe was easy. I logged in, read through the online consent form and purchased the service (~$400). Within a few days I received a sample collection kit in the mail, with instructions on how to provide a DNA sample (ok, spit). The kit included a pre-paid, pre-addressed envelope into which I placed the bar coded tube containing my saliva.

They received my sample and I’m told that laboratory personnel extracted DNA from cells in my saliva. My DNA was then processed on an Illumina® BeadChip, which reads more than 550,000 SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms) plus a custom designed set that analyzes more than 50,000 additional SNPs, chosen by 23andMe scientists for their scientific relevance. Ok, I’m not really sure what all of that means, but I’m interested in seeing the results.

As promised 4-6 weeks after mailing back the sample, I received an email notification that my 23andMe genome profile was ready. Currently, I am exploring my genome and determining if I want to opt-in and learn of my potential for Parkinson’s disease. It’s only one click, but I hesitated for some reason. In any case, I’ll let the group know of anything interesting I find! I can tell you that I don’t have to worry much about male pattern baldness, what a relief.

You can see for yourself at

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