Tuesday, November 11, 2008

23andMe DNA Test Was "Invention" of The Year

Consumer DNA test 23andMe made it to the list of the 20 best inventions of 2008 according to the Time magazine.

Consumer DNA test 23andMe

The 23andMe company and service was established by Anne Wojcicki - bio-engineer and wife of Sergey Brin - founder of Google. The service helps determine your genetic predisposition to 99 different diseases (ranging from blindness to baldness). DNA is taken from a sample of your saliva. The unit can recognize and analyze some 600 thousand genetic markers.

Anne and her business partner Linda Avey did not invent the very technology (such service provided and earlier), but they had made their product affordable (about $400), and, most importantly, private.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Complete Genomics promises to decode the human genome for $5,000 in the next year

California company Complete Genomics promises in the first half of next year to begin decoding the full genetic sequences at a price of just $ 5,000 for all of about 3 billion nucleotide pairs of the human genome. It is about 20 times cheaper than the current cost, 50-70 times less than the price offered to end-users and 100 thousand times less than the price of the first composite genome decoded in 2003.

According to The New York Times, Complete Genomics will not sell their services to end-customers directly, it is anticipated that it will work with companies that already «sell genomes» at a price ten times higher. Насколько снизится конечная цена, пока не ясно, но речь идёт, вероятно, о многократном падении стоимости услуги. It's not yet clear, how much the actual price will decrease, but it is likely to drop the cost of multiple services.

A leading manufacturer of equipment for decoding genomes, California company Applied Biosystems, has previously reported that its next-generation machines ready to enter the market, will be able to decipher the genome for about $ 10 thousand. However, this figure includes only reagents and other consumables, and do not include depreciation of equipment and the cost of the service personnel.

How Complete Genomics is going to reduce the price by half, is not yet clear, but the trend of lower prices leading manufacturers like Applied Biosystems and Illumina offers hope that the achievement of a $1000 goal per genome, which many experts see the beginning of an era of mass genomics.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Your Genome Is Scanned. What's next?

Number of new genetic companies scan the genome of anyone who desires for about $1,000, and communicate information of interest to the customer. This may be information relating to his ancestry, the data on the health status or genetic predisposition to a disease, and much more. The customer can compare their genome with the genome of a celebrity or relatives and friends. Despite the impressive results and assured precision, some experts believe that the information is rather entertaining and have a very indirect relation to the stated objectives.

Genetic testing "on demand" has been available for 10 years, but only in recent years number of scanned genes improved immeasurably. Previously, most of the tests included the identification of only a few gene variants, but today, with improved techniques of DNA chips, it's possible to conduct a rapid and inexpensive testing of many genes at once. Recently, the Navigenics company in Redwood Shores and 23andMe in Mountain View (California) and deCODE in Reykjavik (Iceland) began to scan the DNA markers to identify more than 20 diseases. Knome company in Cambridge (Massachusetts) expressed its intention to join the Craig Venter and James Watson project to create a database that includes personal decoded and sequenced genomes.

Now that genetic companies have the latest techniques, controlled nucleotide sequences and the extensive population data, they can easily identify genes associated with various pathologies, or determining the propensity to them. Unfortunately, the information received is not exhaustive, and sometimes even proved controversial. Muin Khoury, director of the division of genomics Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention warns about it. In his view, sequencing or scan of the genome to find markers of predisposition to a disease "does not provide any valuable information".

Predisposition does not mean that the person with corresponding genes is necessarily going to get sick (except for rare diseases associated with the anomaly in a single gene). The behavior of such complex biological systems as human body is determined by interactions between many genes, play an important role as RNA, chemical agents and other factors. Such complex diseases like diabetes or cardiovascular disease, developed under the influence of a variety of external factors, in conjunction with an uncertain number of genes.

With so many unknown parameters would be premature to make any predictions about health on the basis of the results of genetic testing. This is the opinion of Muin Khoury. In addition, he stresses, is not evident that information on genetic predisposition to disease persuades people to make a difference in their lives. And the doctors themselves do not always know how to benefit from the genome tests in practice. Moreover, as demonstrated by studies carried out in July 2006, by Government Control commission, in some cases, firms specializing in diet customization based on customers DNA testing, have not even done any genetic tests.

New genome-typing firms, have decided to abandon the practice of forecasting. They are considering DNA scanning only as a new tool to obtain medical information, which the customer can dispose of at their discretion - consult a doctor or take an independent decision on a diet or lifestyle. "Rather than wait until science come to a new level of development, it makes sense to properly use what it has now", - argues Mari Baker, the executive director of Navigenics. According to her, not all 1.8 million regions of the genome, which her company now scans, informative, but as soon as they pass into another capacity, customers can immediately take advantage of this. Navigenics plans to also include other information in the database, such as the health of family members, parents and more distant ancestors of customer and if they had received any medication.

Some experts fear that such openness could lead to undesirable consequences. As the practical benefits of a full genome scan is not yet clear, "ordinary people could lose its interest before the situation changes, and this method shows itself in the entire power", - thinks Sharon Terry, president of Genetic Alliance lawyers group. Parallel to development of such tools as a guide to monitor the health of all family members and their ancestors, or creating Wiki Genetics site, experts from the Genetic Alliance believe, that anti-discrimination measures must be implemented as well as monitoring of the rights to privacy of information, and improved quality and accessibility testing. So far, all attempts to amend the legislation has not been successful.

Navigenics, 23andMe and deCODE argue that customers are the owners of personal genetic data. But companies do not restrict access to the data to their partners - both commercial and non-profits engaged in basic research.

Muin Khoury believes that to date the most affordable and effective tool for personalized medicine is a family history of diseases - a resource that cost almost nothing is at the same time, help detect the effects of many genes, and take into account environmental and behavioral factors. But only a third of families have this information. Genome-typing - certainly a step forward in personalized medicine, "but it may take a long time, until genetic data will become a routine tool for doctors", - sure Khoury.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Ethnic DNA Testing

DNA testing has far reaching implications. It is being used not just for serious purposes like forensic science but also to determine the ethnicity of individuals. A particular company, marketing its tests to determine the ethnicity of people calls it recreational genomics. These tests have become extremely common these days and are being employed by a large number of people.

Some companies use SNP tests to confirm the ethnicity of a person. SNP's are the positions on the DNA where one nucleotide has mutated to another nucleotide. They provide information about the percentage influence of a particular ethnic group in a person. Various companies provide this information based on their own criteria. Some of them divide it into several categories while some companies use only a few ethnic groups as the background. The accuracy of these tests still remains controversial and can not be relied upon completely.

STR is another technology that is frequently employed to provide information about the ethnic background of a person. STR's are defined as locations on chromosomes where two or more nucleotide patterns are repeated. Also, these repetitions are generally adjacent to each other. However, the results of an STR test vary from those of SNP tests as they do not depend upon bio-geographic divisions of the world. The STR tests are more useful in cases where intra group relations are to be established. In cases where inter group relations have to be determined, these tests have serious limitations.

In males, Y chromosome sampling is carried out to determine their ethnicity. This testing is more reliable because only males have this chromosome. All males of a particular family have more or less similar pattern on their Y chromosome.

However, these tests are not completely accurate all the time. The traces of an ancestor, several generations back, may not show up. On other occasions a very little percentage of some ethnic group character may actually be a false indicator. These tests may even spur the already prevalent gap between different races. In a society like America that is already multi racial, these tests may provide a spark of hatred for another group.

Also, people are using these tests for their own private gains. A leading daily noted that a person with a slight Jewish ancestry trace claimed Israeli citizenship on the basis of that. Others are successfully using it to gain admissions to the colleges in minority category or to stake their claims to property.

Although these tests reveal a lot of information about a person, a certain ethical code should be created for people performing these tests to avoid its misuse. People deciphering their ethnic origins should also be prevented from using this for personal gains.

DNA Profiling

What is DNA Profiling?

It is a report card on your blood. The DNA profile looks at various significant markers and keeps track of them. Once the analysis is complete you have one person's DNA report card or DNA profile. The profile focuses on micro satellites and other regions most often seen in relationship and human identity studies. Remember that most all of our DNA is identical to any other person. The DNA profile looks for the small differences between individuals.

This field is highly subsidized and most commonly used by governmental agencies. However, it does exist in the consumer market as well. For those individuals who would like to be thorough and have all their information, you can send off for a DNA profiling kit. The services range from blood preservation, testing services for paternity, and even a DNA ID card from certain providers. This service is excellent for the health sector. It makes it easy in case of an emergency, no testing required, your blood type is already determined. Or if you need to donate blood they can just review your DNA ID card and profile and determined if it is suitable.

In the United Kingdom there is a DNA database available to all agencies for DNA matching. Most DNA profiling falls under two categories - health sector or law enforcement. But eventually it will be propelled in the consumer market, further assisting those previously mentioned groups while making more people aware of their individual DNA.

If you would like to learn more about how DNA profiles are being used to help government agencies all across the world you can visit either Interpol or FBI official websites and simply type in DNA profile in their respective search engines. It usually falls under the category of Forensics in this area. To learn more about the importance of the impact of human genetics and personal DNA profiling visit agencies like the Red Cross and other International Medical Disaster organizations.

Why Should I get a DNA Profile?

There are many ways in which a DNA profile can help you. First, in claims of paternity, especially in the event of a family estate where the relationship to the deceased is an issue, the profiling process can establish presence or absence of the required biological relationship. DNA profiles can also assist in missing persons cases, to provide identification, avoid improper blood at hospitals, etc. The cost to a consumer is around $200-$300 depending on the type of procedure selected. Make sure that the lab you choose follows proper chain of custody rules in the event you need the profile for a legal proceeding.

Mitochondrial DNA Testing

Mitochondrial DNA is a primitive type of DNA. Mothers pass on their mitochondrial DNA to their children, both boys and girls. However, fathers do not pass on their mitochondrial DNA. This DNA can be tested to determine the relationship between two samples.

There are several reasons why a linear array Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) test may need to be performed. When a sample is not suitable to undergo other types of DNA testing, to test hair strands without the root, to test a highly degraded tissue, or to test skeletal remains. Outside of forensic casework it can be used for maternal testing, sibling studies, genealogy, grand maternity or maternal kinship analysis. This test works because the DNA in the samples contains certain markers in males and females which are specifically inherited from the maternal line. It is commonly used where there is not enough of a sample or high quality samples to use radioactive probes or nuclear testing on the sample. Linear Array Mitochondrial DNA testing is used to fill in the gaps using a specific genetically inherited marker.

This type of DNA testing is for frequently establishing maternity when the potential mother is not available for testing (either due to death or an unwillingness to cooperate). The test can be used to see if two females are related to each other, but it cannot be used for establishing paternity. For example, an adopted woman who locates her birth family can use this testing to verify her relationship to the family, even if her biological mother has passed away.

However, mitochondrial DNA testing is not the perfect solution. It does not always work because it is only works for determining maternal lineage only. The results take up to two months and the results cannot be compared to other DNA testing methods to help verify the results. Another negative aspect is the cost, which can be $700 or more per sample.

The ability to test mtDNA has brought advances in both forensic DNA testing and genealogical DNA testing. While it is not always the best test available, it is sometimes the only test available in situations where there was not DNA testing available just a few years ago.

Ancestry DNA Testing

Ever wonder if one of your ancestors was a Native American? Adopted and looking for some cultural roots? Or are you working on your family tree and looking for new avenues to search? Well you might want to consider ancestry DNA testing. It is a simple test with one goal in mind - to located your deep ancestral roots. In addition, most ancestry DNA testing kits come with a genetic fingerprint profile as well.

The tests are usually generalized into certain groups of people such as Africans, Indo European, Native American and East Asians since they are large historical groups. Such exams are legal and will hold up in court which are especially useful in America if you are a Native American. You can learn if you are entitled to any relief and casino funds, free college tuition, and more.

Most of these basic ancestry DNA testing kits will be mailed to your door and ask you to swab the inside of your cheeks. They use these tissue samples to determine your DNA profile. There are lots of tests available, such as a European test so you can learn where in the European Map you originated from. You might want to purchase two or three kits if you believe you know which ones may apply to you.

You do not need to be in the dark about your cultural roots any more. These DNA testing kits help with your search and hopefully find the answers you are looking for. The costs are very minimal for the benefit of knowing your ancestors. For a complete test kit you are looking at spending around $1000 - there are generally discount programs for ordering all the available tests. If you just are curious and want a basic package they start around $250-$300 for each kit.

You do not need to test everyone in the family. In fact it is recommended you test the males since they carry the unique XY or Y chromosome that women do not carry. This Y chromosome is vital in finding all the clues and ancestry. The tests are based on statistical probabilities of your origins, so interpret all numbers and percentages with caution. Usually when presenting this for legal purposes the courts require more than ancestry DNA testing as evidence to support a claim of heritage.