Archive for August, 2007|Monthly archive page

A new look and a new network!

I am trying to increase the ease of reading this blog so I am trying out a new template. I think less is more, and for anyone that thinks style is important for conveying information should consider taking a look at the works of Edward Tufte. Comments from the peanut gallery?

I am excited to be part of The DNA Network, a Feedburner network!

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Genetics versus genomics: not “how many genes” but “what is the question”

How many genes does it take to make a genome, at least when you are purchasing the information? What about paying for epigenitic information? Will I care WHAT genetic information I get so long as it answers my question:

Who’s the daddy?

Will I get cancer?

Will my patient’s cancer go away with a certain treatment option?

Hsien-Hsien Lei, PhD over at Eye on DNA brings this up as good discussion based on her comment to my post on not being able to buy your genome yet:

“There are actually quite a number of companies offering information on our genomes.

1) Nutrigenomics – Sciona, Suragen
2) Medical genetics – DNA Direct, Opaldia (UK), Navigenics
3) Genetic genealogy –, Family Tree DNA, 23andMe
4) Paternity and relationship testing – DNA Diagnostics Center, Genetic Testing Labs
5) DNA Art

And the list goes on….”

Perhaps in future posts I can detail some of the biology behind what each service sells from growing list. Just one note at this point, which is why in my mind there is a major difference between the above companies and the companies of 23andme and Navigenics: the quantity of information available about your genetic blueprint is much much greater with the new companies (your whole genome versus a few well defined genes that do something predictable). Once you have your genome sequence, and new discoveries are made about how the genome operates, you could update what you know about yourself (in theory)!

Like good science, it is going to be defining the question that is important for the consumer of genetics and genomics! Which is why it is fun to speculate what each company will be peddling because it will come in the form of an answer!



Navigenics and 23andme “Complimentary”?

The Latest in Personal Genomics posting over at The Genetical Genealogist found this great quote from Navigenics from VentureBeat:

“Meanwhile, Navigenics board member Dana Mead, a partner at KP, tells us by email that Navigenics is doing something “different” from 23andMe and that he sees the company as “more complimentary than competitive” to 23andMe.”

As everyone keeps mentioning – neither company has a product yet. Certainly the basic genomic information people will buy about themselves isn’t available yet. Speculation on who’s partnering with who is high, and what the information we’ll be able to get remains cloudy (SNP versus whole genome sequence). Just because Illumina let slip they were partnering with 23andme does NOT mean  that 23andme will use a single source instead of using all available technology. This kind of technology changes rapidly, so it seems silly for either company to put themselves in a restricted box (only one technology or a single company as a supplier) for a product that may not even exist yet!  Exactly what is used in the future to sell your genome back to you depends a lot on when each company is ready to launch a service!

What is more likely is that the interpretation side (what exactly is the information going to tell you from your sequence) for each company will have a different focus. With different goals of telling you what the information means, each company could very well use the exact same technology to decode your genome but tell you slightly different (and hence complimentary) answers about yourself – it’s all about the questions each company is promising to answer about what your genome means! So far…they have really not said a whole lot as to what those questions are.

Your personal genome: for sale…to you…but not yet!

The race has started for companies wanting to sell you your genomic information. None are selling you products yet (except for your geographic ancestry from National Geographics Genographer).

23andme has been grabbing some attention because of receiving some Google funding, and Illumina’s CEO mentioned their partnership, check out the posting here at Symaxis. However, there is still nothing for sale (no Google Checkout for you…yet!). Recently Ester Dyson, board member of 23andme, recently talked to Charlie Rose, of which I wrote about here.

Navigenetics also has a website full of advisers, ethics, and policy. But no shopping cart…yet!

Esther Dyson on the Personal Genome Project and the Genographic video clips

Esther Dyson talks with Charlie Rose about sharing her genome through the Personal Genome Project here on the Personal Genome blog. She doesn’t think that it is really so scary after all to share her genome with the world! She makes a really good point that environment is always going to be more important than genetics (for example your health insurance company will always want to know if you smoke!).

And interestingly, she unabashedly points out that yes indeed, the U.S.A. will lose it’s top dog status in the future world unless we find some respect for science toward the end of the video.

Further down the same page on the Personal Genome blog is the video clip of Dr. Spencer Wells discusses the National Geographic Genographic on the Colbert Report.

Photosynth in action clip

Blaise Aguera y Arcas demonstrates Photosynth from Microsoft with constructing Notre Dame from tagged pictures…use your imagination for what it could do for a genome!

Photosynth and genomics: the future of information representation

Prognostications of the future of genomics:  this is one of the best examples of what web3.0 will be, and genomics is the obvious application of this kind of technology!!!

Photosynth from Microsoft Live Labs will be able to create a synthetic metaverse based on tagging…no more searching through the 18 different sites and cross referencing to find out everything about your favorite region of the genome! The genome can be self-assembling!