Personal genome scans to cost as little as $399
Now the race to assign utility to human genome sequences is on. Companies are on the mission to cut the costs of genome sequencing and analysis to be able to sell genomic information to average consumers.
23andMe, a private biotech company, used to sell genome scanning chips for $1000. Yesterday they announced the price of their genome scan chip will be cut down to match that of an 8GB iPod ($399 to be exact). This sensational price drop of almost 60% is yet another breakthrough in personalized genomics industry. Given the kind of information that the genome scanning chip can provide, one might consider investing.
The chip can help detect predisposition for the following conditions:
- Alcohol Flush Reaction
- Age-related Macular Degeneration
- Bitter Taste Perception
- Non-ABO Blood Groups
- Breast Cancer
- Celiac Disease
- Colorectal Cancer
- Crohn's Disease
- Earwax Type
- Eye Color
- G6PD Deficiency
- Heart Attack
- Resistance to HIV/AIDS
- Lactose Intolerance
- Lung Cancer
- Lupus (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus)
- Malaria Resistance (Duffy Antigen)
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Muscle Performance
- Norovirus Resistance
- Prostate Cancer
- Restless Legs Syndrome
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Sickle Cell Anemia & Malaria Resistance
- Type 1 Diabetes
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Venous Thromboembolism
Among other things, their new chip can check people for a condition that makes taking some drugs extremely dangerous. If you are G6PD deficient, and unwittingly take the malaria drug primaquine, you'll have a horrible reaction that may include hemolytic anemia and death.
By checking your genetic makeup before taking a new medication, you might be able to avoid that sort of nasty situation. In other words, the new test could give you a lifesaving warning.
Predicting how someone will respond to a drug before they ever take it, just by looking at their genes, is called pharmacogenetics. It is a rather new field, and not ready for prime time yet, but I have a feeling that services like the one offered by 23andMe will greatly accelerate its development.
At some point 23andMe will start asking its clients how well they respond to particular drugs. By relating that information to their customer's genetic data, the small company's researchers may be able to identify new pharmacogenetic markers -- genes that indicate how someone will react to a medication.
23andMe is also tapping into genealogical industry by announcing a new partnership with Ancestry.com.
As part of this arrangement, customers who have their DNA analyzed for genealogical purposes by Ancestry.com will also have access to ancestry-related content from 23andMe.