The human genome writ large

Google’s ventures have expanded to the human genome. What started a few years ago with small-scale scientific efforts, expanded to National Geographic’s Genographic Project, and went many commercial directions has now been joined by a Google entry called 23andme. Although it seems aimed mostly at people’s individual curiosity about their genetic endowment, 23andme almost certainly will provide a bonanza for folks interested in studying the genetic endowment of human kind.

To be sure, there are many players (Navigenics, DeCode Genetics, to name a couple of big ones) in the personal genomics game, but with Google behind it, 23andme will likely leap ahead. There will be plenty of questions to consider. Not the least of these from a personal point of view, is the trustworthiness of the providers. To whom will the data be available? What data will be available? Will the data be secure?

Some other questions of interest will also arise. For example, will researchers actually be able to aggregate data? Will the data kept in different data bases be managed in a way that permits one to integrate them?

What fun!


Filed under Amusements, News, Notes and comments, Science, Technology

2 responses to “The human genome writ large

  1. Hannah Lloyd

    “In general testing groups don’t accept each others’ data. Some of them set up public databases (such as sponsored by FTDNA) where you can post results and compare with others who have done the same. On the other hand, you can certainly test at multiple companies. In the case of 23andme, the test is a different kind of these from the mitochondrial test you bought from FTDNA. For the mtDNA test that you had done, FTDNA looked as two segments of your mitochondria, sequenced these segments, and produced a report that showed the differences from a reference. (CRS). Y-DNA tests select the Y chromosome and typically look at specific markers to determine values of these markers. The markers they look at are ones that have been shown to be helpful in analysis for genealogical purposes. In the case of 23amdme, they are not sequencing anything nor are they looking at specific markers on a single chromosome but rather are looking as specific spots (SNPs) throughout the 23 pairs of chromosomes that might be useful in determining physical characteristics, propensity for specific diseases, etc. Services from 23andme are brand new and little is known about specifically which SNPs they are testing. It will be interesting to see how this develops.
    J. J. (Jim) Logan
    Group Administrator, J1mtDNA, FxGS, and Logan DNA Projects
    FxGS SIG Leader, Surname Projects and Genetic Genealogy
    Member mtTree Project, International Society of Genetic Genealogists.

  2. NIce note, Han. Thanks for dropping it.

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