You Can Carry Your Genome Information on an iPhone?

"Genes load the gun. Lifestyle pulls the trigger." by Dr. Elliot Joslin.

GigaOM comments on the business model of a new biotech company called 23andMe which has Google as one of its investors. The company name is a play on the 23 pairs of chromosomes that carry every individual’s DNA.

23andMe was co-founded by Anne Wojcicki, wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin. The company reportedly wants to help bring genome information to the consumers via a simple 4-step process:

1. You will send 23andMe a sample. It could be something as tiny as a Q-Tip rubbed on the inside of your cheek.

2. Mail the sample to 23andMe and it will end up at Illumina (another biotech company) which will genotype it.

3. Illumina will send the DNA information back to 23andMe.

4. The information is going to be available via a password protected website.

The Illumina CEO told he already carries his genotype on his iPhone.

John Halamka, MD from the blog Life as a Healthcare CIO has just had his genome sequenced and shares some of the findings:

"An analysis based on the Welcome Trust Genome Wide Association Study (GWAS) indicates that my risks for disease are:

Coronary Artery Disease - increased risk
Diabetes Type 2 - average risk
Rheumatoid Arthritis - average risk

Thus for me, becoming a vegan 7 years ago was truly a great idea. By reducing all my cardiac risk factors, I've likely negated my genetic risks."

Whole genome sequencing fails to predict risk of most common diseases, according to BMJ.


Google's Genetic Start-Up.
Some Details About Google Related Genome Start-up, 23andMe.
My Genome, Myself: Seeking Clues in DNA. NYTimes, 11/2007.
23andme to launch Monday. Googling Google, 11/2007.
23andMe: The Re-Review., 11/2007.
Personalized Medicine. Life as a Healthcare CIO, 01/2008.
How to talk to patients about genetic testing
Image source: 23andMe

Related reading:

The Race to Read Genomes on a Shoestring, Relatively Speaking. NYTimes, 02/2008.
Insurance Fears Lead Many to Shun DNA Tests. NYTimes, 02/2008.
Mike Arrington posted his 23andMe DNA Results.
Genetic testing is available for approximately 2000 clinical conditions - Preparing for Precision Medicine - NEJM, 2012.

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