23andMe Launches Web-Based Service Empowering Individuals to Access and Understand their own Genetic Information
News Nov 19, 2007
23andMe, Inc. has announced that it has officially launched and has begun offering its services directly to consumers in the United States. 23andMe is helping individuals understand their own genetic information through the latest advances in DNA analysis and web-based interactive tools.
The Company’s service will enable customers to gain deeper insights into their ancestry and other inherited traits which are marked in an individual’s genetic code.
The 23andMe service allows individuals to:
• Search and explore their genomes;
• Learn how the latest research studies relate directly to traits identified in their genome;
• Compare their genomes to family and friends who are also 23andMe participants;
• Discover their genetic roots and find where they sit on the tree of human genetic history; and
• Give individuals the option to actively participate in a new research approach.
Linda Avey, co-founder of 23andMe, said, “Over the past several years, significant advances have been made in the field of genetics. The mission of 23andMe is to take the genetic revolution to a new level by offering a secure, web-based service where individuals can explore, share and better understand their own genetic information.”
Anne Wojcicki, co-founder of 23andMe, said, “23andMe is designed to provide our customers with scientifically accurate, high-quality information about their own genetic code in a format that is easy to understand and use. We believe this information provides intriguing insights into an individual's genetics, with the goal of expanding the collective knowledge base by enabling active participation in research.”
How 23andMe’s services work: 23andMe sends individuals a saliva kit containing a barcoded tube for saliva collection. Customers then use the enclosed mailing materials to send their samples to 23andMe’s contracted laboratory. The DNA is then extracted and exposed to a microchip-like device made by Illumina that reads more than half a million points in the individual’s genome, including a proprietary set chosen by 23andMe scientists, to produce a detailed genetic profile.
Once the analysis has been completed, individuals will be able to use their own private login to access their data via 23andMe’s secure website. Using 23andMe’s web-based tools, individuals can explore their ancestry, see what genetics research means for them and compare themselves to friends and family members.
Ultimately, they will become part of a community that works together to advance the overall understanding of the human genome.
Jay Flatley, CEO of Illumina, said, "We believe this service will open up a new world of genetic awareness that could complement traditional research efforts in ways we haven't even considered.”
Esther Dyson, a director of 23andMe and an investor, said, “23andMe allows individuals to explore and potentially benefit from information related to their health, inherited features, and even unknown talents exposed in their genotype. It is our belief that 23andMe will help people to better understand the interacting roles of inheritance, environment and behavior. By bringing individuals together, we will have the power to unveil what our genetic framework means for us, and how we can use that information to improve our lives.”
As genome editing technologies advance toward clinical therapies, they are raising hopes of a completely new way to treat disease. However, challenges need to be addressed before potential treatments can be widely used in patients. To tackle these challenges, the National Institutes of Health has launched the Somatic Cell Genome Editing program, which has awarded multiple grants including more than $3.6 million to assess the safety of genome editing in human cells and tissues.