PDA

View Full Version : Share your DNA with the world



Maciamo
24-08-09, 16:21
New Scientist : Your genome isn't that precious – give it away (http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20327224.500-your-genome-isnt-that-precious--give-it-away.html?DCMP=OTC-rss&nsref=online-news)

The article rightly points out that one's genome isn't that precious. The 6 (or was it 7) billion human beings on Earth each have one. Every life form has one, from your pet to the potato chips you eat or the bacteria in your gut (which have a different genome from yours). I really don't see why people should be afraid to share their genome, especially anonymously.

All of us have some medical risk, but most of us have only minor risks for many diseases rather than major risks. Who cares anyway ? It takes a lot of analysis to review a single person's DNA, and we still don't know more than a fraction of the function of our 30,000 genes.

The interaction of genes is so complex that a allele can sometimes lower the risk for a disease associated with other alleles, but increase it in tandem with other variants of other genes. In fact, a single variant of a gene can raise risks for some medical conditions while decreasing it for other diseases. There is no ideal genome, and there is no reason to be afraid of knowing your genome.

The apex of self-consciousness and hubris is to think that strangers would be interested in you enough to actually seek to analyse your whole genome for you and seek to find out everything they can about you - a colossal task that would take weeks, if not months to achieve, even for a geneticist. One should be flattered if any other human being wished to spend some much time and energy learning about them.

Just look at how geneticist proceed to try to discover new genetic variants associated with diseases or traits. They have to compare thousands of genomes to find common alleles between people with a same condition. It can take years before a single study is verified and accepted. And that's just for one or a few SNP's out of 3 billion base pairs in our DNA. This should give you an idea of just how much work it is to analyse DNA, and how much there is still to discover. Only a few hundreds SNP's have clear associations, but the function of millions of others is still unknown.

This is why I agree with the New Scientist; stop being precious about your DNA and contribute to genetic research. US residents can do it for free with the Personal Genome Project (http://www.personalgenomes.org/). Others can test with 23andMe (http://www.eupedia.com/cgi-bin/dir/jump.cgi?ID=232883) for just 99$.

Le Loup
02-09-09, 23:34
........but they test you for 99$ ??? The WHOLE 580'000 markers for your ancestry ??


Or they test just partially ?

Maciamo
03-09-09, 12:59
They test the whole 580,000 SNP's, I think, but you won't have access to the raw data, can't compare with other (e.g. family inheritance) and won't know your Y-DNA and mtDNA haplogroups. Basically they just tell you about the health and traits and, for that price, you must participate to their research program. It's a good way for 23andMe to increase the number of DNA samples and discover new SNP associations. Their rival company deCODEme has identified and published quite a few new medically relevant SNP's by testing (for free) thousands of Icelandic and Dutch people and comparing their medical history. I think that 23andMe's aim is to do the same with customers who don't mind participating in medical research if that means they get a big discount on their DNA test.

You could always join a totally free research program*, but it isn't guaranteed that they will inform you of (all) your results. I am not aware of any free program outside the USA. Even in the US participants must go to the university or lab in person, which means you had better live nearby. So there clearly is a market for cheap medical test financed by research.

* The Utah-based Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation (http://www.eupedia.com/cgi-bin/dir/jump.cgi?ID=233451) also offers free Y-DNA tests, but they do not guarantee that they will tell you your results, and even when they do it can take up to two years. So better be patient if you don't have the money.

Le Loup
03-09-09, 23:04
Thank you very much for the answer.

To be sincere i'm not interested in the Y-dna and Mtdna data. My curiousity was about another thing : if they provide you the data about your "position" inside the the European genetic substructure map (southern-northern European, for example).

Maciamo
04-09-09, 11:33
Thank you very much for the answer.

To be sincere i'm not interested in the Y-dna and Mtdna data. My curiousity was about another thing : if they provide you the data about your "position" inside the the European genetic substructure map (southern-northern European, for example).

You won't have access to any ancestry related data for 99$. Anyway the positioning on the map is very approximate and will evolve a lot over time. They have 3 levels of zoom on the map (world, Europe, part of Europe), and one's position in relation to others is not the same on each map.