23andMe and the Ticking Timebomb Within
Do you know there’s a ticking timebomb within you? Do you know the code to disarm the damage? Will you allow the bits of you to explode? Are you interested, at all, in trying to diffuse the inevitable?
After receiving your sample, lab professionals extract DNA from cells in your saliva. Your DNA is then chopped up into shorter strands and copied many times via a process called amplification. Next, your DNA is washed over a small microchip-like device that contains short strands of synthetic DNA. The synthetic DNA fragments latch onto the pieces of your DNA that are a complementary match.
Then a laser-scanning step reveals which strands of synthetic DNA are stuck to your DNA to determine your genotype. The chip used in our process is the Illumina HumanHap550+ BeadChip, which reads more than 550,000 SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms) plus a 23andMe custom-designed set that analyzes more than 30,000 additional SNPs. What this means is that the laboratory process reads nearly 600,000 data points on your genome. Find out more about our genotyping process.
23andMe offers you DNA-specific insight in your genetic predisposition for acquiring diseases, your family ancestry and how you compare with the rest of the world on the genome level. Are those things you want to know or not?
If price is an issue, if someone else paid for your genetic testing, would you still want to know things that are hidden inside you but that are now discoverable for the right price? Is there any concern storing your genetic profile on a private internet server that you access by logging in and looking around to see your history and future presented in electronic form for analysis against the rest of the world?
What are the dangers and advantages of 23andMe? Will this sort of genetic testing be mandatory for future government support or for continuing insurance coverage or as an admissions standard for prep schools and universities?
Should this sort of human genome project ever be a privatized for-profit venture — Anne Wojcicki, wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin heads up the effort and Google invested in the company — or should our DNA and genetic secrets be released free-of-charge into a world database for disinterested inspection by anyone and everyone without having to first pay a fee for a look-see into the demise of our private tomorrows?