What’s up with 23andMe?

23 pairs chromosomesBiotech start-ups utilizing genetic information are nothing new. Could 23andMe be unique? Yesterday, I received a nice email from their recruiting manager, Oliver Ryan. As luck would have it, I’m vacationing in the San Francisco Bay Area and hope to swing a meeting with some 23andMe folks next week, including Anne Wojcicki and Linda Avey. If there’s anything you’d like to me to ask, email me or leave a comment here.

From the little information that’s available on their website, 23andMe sounds like one-stop shopping for personal genomic information.

23andMe is an early stage startup developing tools and producing content to help people make sense of their genetic information. Our goal is to take advantage of new genotyping technologies and help consumers explore their genetics, informed by cutting edge science.

Your annotated DNA on a USB portable hard drive could happen much sooner than any of us expect. What are your plans for all that genetic information? I might set mine to music. ;)

The Genetic Genealogist has more about 23andMe.

Update: We’ve decided to keep the meeting off the record. I’m so sorry! When they’re ready to blast their publicity horn, though, you can bet I’ll be there to record it.

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    • http://thegeneticgenealogist.com The Genetic Genealogist

      As a genetic genealogist, I am excited about the prospect of full-genome sequencing. I was wondering, however, about the potential snags in such a project, such as future DNA legislation, cost, and security concerns. Already I suspect that 23andMe would be subject to the pending “Laboratory Test Improvement Act,” which may or may not be passed. And although I personally and comfortable with storing my genetic information in a secure database, I wonder how these problems will affect 23andMe’s business.
      Thank you for this opportunity to ask questions, and have fun at your meeting! Blaine, The Genetic Genealogist.

    • http://geneticsandhealth.com Hsien Hsien Lei, PhD

      Blaine: Thanks! I’ll jot down your questions and see if I can squeeze some answers out of them. ;)

    • http://www.babybiotechs.com/ Brian at babybiotechs.com

      Please ask them exactly what the heck they’re going to do to make money. Last time I looked at their website (looking for a potential job), I couldn’t figure out what the heck they’re planning on doing. So I passed on making an application.

      Looking forward to your post.

    • http://thegeneticgenealogist.com The Genetic Genealogist

      Hsien, I understand the need to keep it off the record. After all, it’s a new startup in a competitive arena. I really have high hopes for the company, and I hope to be one of their first customers when they open for business. Please be sure to keep us updated when you hear something new!

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    • GeneticsIsNotAJoke

      I do not completely believe in the information about telling you how to live so that you can avoid certain diseases. The truth of the matter is that the exact science to predict such things DOES NOT exits and such speculations could cause a lot of panic among a person’s life. What I mean is that there is no model which exists today, and predicts that if a person has a certain variant in his genome, he/she will get the disease in the future. Even if we assume that such a thing exists, i.e. if someone, somehow is able to test and tell you if you will get a disease in the future, NOTHING much can be done about it. The reason is simple: Pharama companies are not make PRE-Symptomatic drugs, i.e. they are only making drugs for diseases when you show symptoms of those diseases and almost nothing exists for you to take a drug, when you do not have the disease but might get it in the future. I believe such services by 23andme etc are just to increase panic in the world. Having said all this, it is definately a good service to offer, not now, but 10 years or so down the line, when you know exactly how these diseases are caused in the lifetime and when what can be done about them. I hope people really understand what they are doing before opting for such a service. If you have to get a disease in the future, it is better to enjoy your days in life till you get that disease, provided it is a disease for which nothing much can be done about it at this stage.

    • http://buzzyeah.com Andrew Meyer

      Dr. Lei,

      Did you try out their service? Have you had your genome decoded? Hopefully, I’ll have mine decoded by the end of the year.


    • http://geneticsandhealth.com Elaine

      Hi Andrew!

      Hsein Hsein is at Eye on DNA now, I’m sure she’d love to hear from you! I haven’t had my genome decoded but I might think about deCODE’s “deCODEme” which is similar in type to 23andme. I know the chaps at deCODE well and they are very good … not that I’m biased as I haven’t yet spoken to 23andme or Navigenetics, another provider.


      Good luck – we’ll be in contact soon with each other and it would be great to interview you on your first hand experiences.