Personalized Genetics: Concerns and a bit of fun

After finishing my exams (and becoming a 6th year medical student), it takes time to remove my backlog. So here are some interesting news and articles about individualized medicine I would like to share with you.

First, let’s see concerns regarding the companies offering genetic services.

Daniel MacArthur at Genetic Future wrote:

…a couple of weeks ago I attended a seminar on personal genomics in Cambridge, UK, where deCODEme’s Agnar Helgason volunteered that “what we can offer at the moment is pretty meagre”. Navigenics and 23andMe tend to avoid such frank admissions, but their predictions are still very carefully phrased in statistical terms.

Andrew Yates at ThinkGene reviewed the service of 23andMe:

Even more disappointing is that despite claims in the press of joining some elite genetic social club, I have yet to be invited to any parties… or even receive an email written in a festive tone. Come on, 23andMe, that’s not cool.

He also noted that:

The reality is that except for a few enthusiasts (like anyone in the DNA Network, including myself), existing SNP genomic services just aren’t that useful. It’s not useful to know that one has a 7% lifetime risk rather than a 5%. I need to know risks of about 40% and higher. No test offered by deCODEme, 23andMe, and Navigenics gives me this information. Even Kari Stephansson of deCODE has admitted “we are marketing these tests without any claim that they will impact on people’s lives.”

And a little bit of fun:

  • 23andMe Unveils 23andWe (BuzzYeah): They provide me with easy, fun questions in survey form and I get to see how my answers compare to the rest of the 23andMe community. At the same time, 23andMe is correlating my answers to my genetic data (which they think will lead to a new way of doing genetic research).