Saturday, December 22, 2007

For a Few Bucks: Your Genome

I am intrigued by the new companies that will read your DNA for $1,000. I was first interested in 23andme - a web-based place that describes the process in a very user friendly way. A company just covered in Scientific American is deCODE's deCODEme. The story says: deCODE Genetics has launched a new service that, for a mere $985, will take your FedExed cheek swab and scan the enclosed DNA for a sprinkling of genetic variations linked with 20 or so diseases, as well as ancestry and physical traits such as eye color (in case you don't have a mirror handy). Not quite ushering in the eagerly awaited era of the $1,000 personal genome, the new service, called deCODEme, will cover less than 0.1 percent of the three billion units of the full genome, which remains a bit too pricey for most people to have sequenced—unless they are geneticist-entrepreneur J. Craig Venter. (See News Bytes of the Week—Popcorn lung leaves the factory.) An era it is, though. Hot on deCODE's heels came the Google-backed 23andMe, which offers a similar service for $999 that would cover 35 percent less of the genome, and a third company, Navigenics, is expected to launch a disease-focused scan.