23andMe has received a lot of attention lately for decoding individuals genomes for low prices. Also that fact that it has received funding from Google and one of the co-founders is married to one of Google's co-founders makes the company a hot topic these days.
For the low price of $999 23andMe sends you a tube which must be filled with saliva and sent back to their lab. There they will decode your genome and provide you with some nice software that will tell you all sorts of things you want to know, such as who your ancestors are, whether you take your looks from your mother or father, and how you compare to other people you know. They also tell you some things you might not want to know, such as what health problems you are likely to suffer or die from.
So far so good, but what do they do to protect your genetic information? Even if there are no names attached to the genetic information 23andMe will have control over a database that insurance companies will pay top dollar for. The real profits for this company will not come from decoding genomes, but from selling this information to insurance companies, who will use it to deny you coverage or raise your rates.
Labels: 23andMe, Genetics, Genetics Just Got Personal, Genome