Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Best Invention of 2008

According to Time magazine it's "The DNA Retail Test." Especially the one marketed by 23andMe.
We are at the beginning of a personal-genomics revolution that will transform not only how we take care of ourselves but also what we mean by personal information. In the past, only élite researchers had access to their genetic fingerprints, but now personal genotyping is available to anyone who orders the service online and mails in a spit sample. Not everything about how this information will be used is clear yet — 23andMe has stirred up debate about issues ranging from how meaningful the results are to how to prevent genetic discrimination — but the curtain has been pulled back, and it can never be closed again. And so for pioneering retail genomics, 23andMe's DNA-testing service is Time's 2008 Invention of the Year.
  1. It's not an invention. The technology has been in place for years. It depends on the work done by hundreds of labs who are investigating the human genome. They deposit their results in public databases.

  2. The profit making company is emphasizing genealogy as much as health. For $1000 (now $399) you can find out how your haplotyes compare to others. This is the best invention of 2008?

  3. There are serious ethical concerns about genetic testing that have not been resolved.

  4. Other companies are selling tests that are just as good and The Genographic Project from National Geographic deserves just as much, if not more, credit than any private company.

  5. Many of the people who buy these products are scientifically literate, and responsible, adults. But there's plenty of opportunity to exploit others who might not understand what the test means.

1 comment:

  1. I agree. 23 and me is a well funded internet storefront that is really a nicely packaged service intermediary rather than an invention.

    While genealogy is a nice introduction to genetics for many people, I think they will be a bit confused with how to interpret their medical data. Most of these biomarkers are barely correlated, let alone linked, to underlying disease processes. Nevertheless, as drug developers, these markers are useful tools that are being developed in parallel with the drugs.

    I do support consumer control of medical data and eventually point-of-care diagnostic testing for validated biomarkers. 23 and Me is just a bit ahead of the science.