FTDNA's new 500,000 SNPs test


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Family Tree DNA has just announced the imminent launch of their new Family Finder test using an Affymetrix Chip with 500,000 SNPs. It is expected to be available to customers around mid-March. FTDNA can now compete in the same category as 23andMe and deCODEme.

FTDNA says that the new test is not medical. Anybody with a bit of knowledge in genetics knows that a 500,000 SNP's test will reveal possible medical conditions. What they mean is that they won't provide that information - just the raw data and ancestry comparison. In other words it will be like 23andMe's "ancestry only" test.

The announced price for the Family Finder is 249$, cheaper than 23andMe's Ancestry test (399$). It is a good deal if it includes a complete Y-DNA and mtDNA haplogroup determination. But at first sight the FTDNA announcement does not mention that it does. It says that they will test blocks of DNA across the 22 autosomal chromosomes. If the test is purely autosomal it will automatically make the test more expensive than 23andMe, because of the extra 537$ required for the deep Y-DNA (169$ for the cheapest Y-STR* +89$ for the deep clade test) and mtDNA tests (279$ for the full mtDNA sequence). So I sincerely hope for them that the Family Finder will not just be autosomal but will include deep Y-DNA and mtDNA subclades too. Otherwise it just won't be able to compete. Who would buy the whole package for 786$ when they can get the same at 23andMe for 399$ with the possibility of knowing one's medical conditions and traits for an extra 100$ ?

On the other hand, if Y-DNA and mtDNA are included, those tests will disappear as separate products and FTDNA will force its rivals (notably Genebase, DNA Ancestry, DNA Heritage and Ethno Ancestry) to follow suit or be out of business. Let's see if they know how to do business.

* after checking today it looks like the cheapest Y-STR test is now the 37 markers. The 12 and 24 markers have been removed.
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