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21 Nov

23andMe

433px Benzopyrene DNA adduct 1JDGPicture this. The year is 2051 and the large biotech company, Probiogenic Solutions, has made huge advances in human genetic research. Backed by internet superpower Google, they have decided to bring their technology to the masses. “Genetics just got personal” is their motto.

It has been decades since Watson and Crick discovered that the human blueprint, at its core, lies in the ever-spiraling structure of the double helix. Since that day in 1953, nearly one hundred years prior, the mysteries uncovered in the tiny strands of DNA speak to the nature of life itself.

Now Probiogenic Solutions wants you to have the information locked up within your cells. The information that can shed light on who you are, where you are from, and what you are made of is at your (and in your) fingertips. Probiogenic Solutions is your modern soothsayer.

Just a sample of your saliva is all it takes.

This sci-fi drama from the future that is the long awaited unraveling of all things related to your physical mortality is upon us. The fictitious Probiogenic Solutions is actually a web-based company called 23andMe, and the year is 2007, not 2051. That’s right. They actually exist today. Their website went public on Monday.

23andMe doesn’t make claims quite as grandiose as those laid out in this little exercise of the imagination. But their services are pretty cool nonetheless. Check out their site for the full story.

We find this stuff intriguing. Are you on board as well, or is this a little too Gattaca and Brave New World for your liking?

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  1. A related article that I just now read while reading the older entries in a blog. I think the author posts here, though I could be wrong.

    http://www.modernforager.com/blog/2006/09/19/epigenetics/

    Looks like maybe now people can access their genetic code and possibly control which genes they express, preventing disease. Though I agree with the statement that people would rather just blame their genes than their own behavior.

    I wonder if people using this 23andme service will use it to find excuses for their own poor choices. I have visions of lawsuits and insurance nightmares, of people finding they ARE prone to a certain disease and figuring out how to turn it “on” to collect money from “the system”, whichever one it may be. I know that sounds outrageous, but I work in insurance claims adjusting, and people will go to great lengths to collect money.

    Lemur wrote on November 25th, 2007
  2. A personalized genetics profile might enable already well-informed individuals to make slight improvements to their diets, but by and large these companies are basically scam artists. The results are less useful than those your doctor can provide during a physical and are prohibitively expensive to boot. I am disappointed that the powers in charge of this blog would advertise this company without providing even a hint of critical analysis. Two thumbs down.

    Elliott wrote on November 27th, 2007
  3. Just watched the video on youtube (search for “23andme”). That’s pretty wild stuff.

    McFly wrote on November 27th, 2007
  4. Elliott, I don’t think the post’s intent was to provide a critical assessment; it was obviously intended to introduce the issue to the readers and open it up for their own opinions (hence asking at the end for the readers’ thoughts). No post can be the definitive work on a topic or a company. Besides, the nature of a blog is to get a discussion going; so by all means, feel free to provide your own critical analysis. But I don’t see how Aaron was “advertising” the company.

    Sara wrote on November 27th, 2007
  5. I signed up with 23andMe over two years ago. I think its a great service.

    Along with the medical insights, learning about my ancestral roots has been fascinating. I’ve also been introduced to cousins I didn’t know existed.

    23andMe has recently been featured on the PBS show “Faces of America”.

    http://www.pbs.org/wnet/facesofamerica/

    Michael wrote on February 12th, 2010

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