How Much Do DNA Tests Cost in 2016?

dna-test

An introduction to DNA testing and its cost

Humans are a complex species. We do everything that other mammals do such as eat, reproduce and try our best to survive. Thanks to genome mapping and DNA testing, we now know that we share much of our DNA with other mammals and even certain fruits.

You may have heard the common trope that we share 50% of our genetic code with bananas – although the similarities extend only to core cell functions. To anyone with eyes, it’s evident that human behavior is much more complex compared to other biological organisms.

We think, create and share. We build amazing structures and have complex social relationships. All of this is possible due to our DNA.

For those not well versed in science, DNA is what carries our genetics. Our genetics are what makes us who we are – everything from eye color to skin tone.

Continue reading “How Much Do DNA Tests Cost in 2016?” »

Looking For Your Birth Parents? Now DNA Samples Can Help.

father and children

An adoption is an act that expresses the feelings of love in both the adoptee and the adoptive parent(s). It is a gift of the inner heart and soul. Despite this, whether a child is adopted by parents who have waited for a long time to get their own but failed or a step-father who adopts children of his wife and names them his surname, the above situations paint an altruistic picture.

While it is obvious that love is a key role here, and neither of the participants would ever want to spur any painful and hurtful feelings, it is true that every human being will always be curious to find out or want to know their origins. In some situations, it is not a matter of curiosity but rather the need for somebody to understand or discover their origins for medical treatments.

In the beginning, if someone would want to find out about their origins, they would go to the search engines like Google where you would do a name search to find friends and family members who were online.

Then it came the era of social media where you had the chance to unite and meet with friends and family who are online through networks such as Facebook. However, for children who are adopted and are looking for their biological parents or even families with the absence of most their family name information, there were little search options. Continue reading “Looking For Your Birth Parents? Now DNA Samples Can Help.” »

23andMe Is Ready To Start Providing Health Data Again

DNA

Silicon Valley sensation 23andMe, a genetic testing company that used to provide ancestry and health related data to consumers, is set to resume to provide this health related trait information again. Back in November of 2013, the Food and Drug Administration had stopped them from providing the health data due to potential false positives, so now two years later they are gearing up to sell their new test kits.

After the FDA stopped them, the company was able to continue to offer ancestry information based on genetic data only, however 23andMe was not allowed to provide any data on non-medical traits like the color of a person’s eye, the composition of the earwax, or whether a person could have a intolerance to lactose.

23andMe  announced in October 2015 that it will be providing clients with health information subject to approval by the F.D.A. The company, which is known to be a game-changer with values based on boundless possibilities; this is set to diversify its portfolio to a drug developer from being only a testing service.

It hopes to bring more subscriptions on board, given their service of informing people about the risk of passing inherited diseases to their children. The Mountain View, California-based company has changed its website as well in an effort to simplify the genetic information and announce the new price for its service which is $199 from the previous price of $99. Continue reading “23andMe Is Ready To Start Providing Health Data Again” »

The Emergence of DIY DNA Testing

Today, if you want a DNA test to determine your risk for certain illnesses such as Alzheimer’s or breast cancer, you have several options open to you. You can visit one of the many medical centers that offer DNA testing. Depending on exactly why you want the test, costs can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. This is not counting the time and cost of going to a genetic counselor to get the results translated.
Another option is to use the services of direct-to-consumer DNA testing companies. You need to just provide a saliva sample for analysis. They do all the testing and interpretation. Or you might decide to go the way of DIY DNA testing.

An increasingly large number of people are opting to ditch the traditional medical DNA testing in favor of a do-it-yourself procedure. Not only are people using these DNA tests to determine their predispositions to certain diseases, they are also using them to uncover their ancestry or determine paternity.

Ancestry DNA kit

The price is a major draw to people. For example, a DNA tests from Ancestry.com costs only $99 compared to the hundreds or thousands of dollars one would normally pay for such a test. Numerous services have come up to offer these kinds of quick and affordable DNA tests including 23andme.com and Ancestry.com. You simply send in a sample, it is analyzed and the results are emailed to you or you can access them from the website.

  23andMe test kits

Genetic Information

Whether obtained through DIY testing or a medical test, your genetic tests results carry a lot of information. Health wise, you can learn whether you carry specific genes that increases the risk of certain diseases.

Angelina Jolie, the famous actress, had a blood test done to determine if she carried a BRCA gene, which portends a greater risk of breast and ovarian cancer in women. This led to a double mastectomy after it was discovered that she had a faulty BRCA1 gene. She later also got her fallopian tubes and ovaries removed.

Another crucial gene that can be checked for using DNA testing is BRCA2, which shows susceptibility for breast cancer type 2. DNA testing can also reveal susceptibility to other diseases like Alzheimer’s, diabetes, heart attack and depression.
If not for health reasons, people also turn to DNA testing to determine their ancestry (geneology testing) or show paternity.

Interpretation of Results

One caveat of DIY DNA testing is that it only provides the raw results and not an analysis of it. If you have ever looked at a DNA test report, you would understand why genetic counselors exist. Unless you have a medical background, it is impossible to get any useful insights from your test.
To fill this gap, interpretation only services have emerged to complement DIY DNA testing providers. So once you receive your raw DNA tests results, you just upload them to one of these sites and get back information you can actually use.
The most famous of these DNA data interpretation sites is Promethease and another is LiveWello. LiveWello charges $20 while Promethease is free but suggests a $5 donation.

Currently, these sites enjoy very little scrutiny from the FDA (unlike DNA testing companies, which cannot give medical analysis) and are quite cheap. This has boosted their popularity with Promethease reporting up to 500 gene reports generated each day.
Altenatively, you can use various digital tools to interpret the heath DNA test results on your own. Examples of such tools include 23++ (a Google Chrome extension), GedMatch and OpenSNP.

The Implications

As expected, not everyone is excited about the rise of DIY DNA testing. Medical professionals are perhaps the most concerned. While DIY testing provides important genetic information and interpretation tools help decode this information, what matters most is what the individual does in the end.

Medical professionals are concerned that people experience undue anxiety about their health resulting in unnecessary tests. For example, a DNA tests that shows one has twice the risk of cervical cancer may cause panic but in reality, it is not that bad. The US cervical cancer rate is around 7.4 in a hundred thousand women per year. Twice that and it comes to around 1 in 6,750 women per year. Basically, the preventive measures taken by someone with normal risk are the same for someone with twice the risk. The needless anxiety can be damaging.

DNA results confused person

Experts advice caution when using these new services and recommend that one still try to see a genetic counselor for a professional take on their results.

How To Select The Right DNA Testing Company for Your Genealogy Project

AABB certification award

The use of DNA testing for genealogical research became popular in the nineties with high profile cases being decided as a result of DNA use.

In certain cases, it was used to disprove relationships between people who had been long deceased. Cases like the last Czar of the Russian family and the Hemmings case both received considerable media attention.

This was the basis for genealogical research using DNA coming to the commercial market starting from the 2000s.

Today, there are numerous companies offering such services.

According to MyFamilyDNATest.com, there are 4 leading ancestry/family tree DNA testing companies in the mass market today:

  • FamilyTreeDNA’s Family Finder
  • AncestryDNA.com
  • 23AndMe.com; and,
  • the Geni 2.0 Project from NatGeo.

Many people often find themselves requiring DNA testing, often in complex and emotionally draining circumstances. This makes it important to choose a company that will offer the right level of quality, accuracy, and conclusiveness.

Here are a few things to look for when selecting such a firm for your genealogy DNA project. Continue reading “How To Select The Right DNA Testing Company for Your Genealogy Project” »

Finding A Lost Identity, with DNA Testing

Finding A Lost Identity, with DNA Testing

If you’ve ever even considered DNA testing, it’s probably in the realms of TV fantasy. But getting your DNA tested has opened up recently as a viable market for a ton of reasons, only one of which is helping those who have been stripped of their identities recover it.

What can DNA testing do for the living?

We tend to think of DNA testing as the sort of thing carried on on crime programs for dead bodies, but there’s a host of real life people who can benefit from DNA testing. From clearing the vagaries of the classic paternity test to helping amnesia victims and right through to assisting adoptees hunting their birth parents, there’s a host of ways in which DNA testing can be of use to the living as well as the dead.

Am I guaranteed a match?

The process of DNA testing creates a profile of the unique DNA sequences that make you you. Once this is established, they can be compared to other samples on record, and matches can be made. While it’s a pretty tricky area of science, in general you match your close family relatives from 25% up and 50% pretty much guarantees a parent.

Finding A Lost Identity, with DNA Testing

Of course, this relies on the data being there to match. There is no comprehensive database of DNA testing- in fact, such a concept is pretty unconstitutional. So while the person you seek may be out there, there’s no guarantee you can find them simply with a DNA test. People who have passed through the federal prison system generally have has their DNA recorded, as will have anyone who works in sensitive fields where DNA contamination must be removed from samples- this can be anything from crime lab personnel to archaeologists involved in DNA sequencing and handling of archaeological samples. Of course, DNA recovered from crime scenes is generally recorded. Likewise, people who have had medical reason to try to find genetic matches may have gene data available to search. If you need to know more you can visit this site here. There’s also databases of those who have lost loved ones to crime or disappearance who have put their DNA on record in the hopes of reuniting with loved ones, and if that is the reason you are reading this article one of the best things you can do is get your own DNA profiled and out there in the hopes of a match being pulled someday.

Why does this matter?

If you are searching for DNA testing due to situations like being adopted or an orphan, know that finding your ‘true’ DNA matched family need not be a concern to you unless you want it. ‘Parent’ and ‘family’ can be defined any way you wish, not merely by blood. Biological bonds may not be important to you and that’s fine. If you are seeking a biological parent or bond, DNA testing may be able to assist you in that quest, and it can prove paternity and similar cases for legal courts. If loved ones have gone missing- or if you, for whatever reason, have no way of knowing where you came from or who you are- DNA testing can offer you an insight into the past that’s inaccessible to you and may help reunite with those seeking you.

In the end, DNA testing is a useful tool to help you in your search.

Fidelity Invests Into 23andMe.com

23andMe Inc., a Silicon Valley genetic-testing-company has managed to raise US$ 115 million in the form of venture capital finance as it gets ready to launch a new product for its clients and also enlarge its drug-discovery portfolio.

23andMe test kit

The genetic-testing company officially announced that the huge amount of funds was obtained from Fidelity Management & -Research Company. The rest of the funding was contributed by New Enterprise Associates & Google Ventures {previous investors} as well as new investors like WuXi Healthcare Ventures & Casdin Capital. The financing significantly boosted its asset base. According to reliable sources, the company is currently valued at an impressive net worth of US $ 1.1 billion.

Background

23andMe Inc. is a startup company that is popularly known for its US $ 99 DNA test which comprehensively analyzes the genetic information contained in clients’ spit. Its name was derived from the twenty-three pairs of chromosomes found in human cells.

According to Andy Page (the president of 23andMe Inc.), the company specifically preferred that Fidelity Management & -Research Company lead the financing round since there are/ were very few financial institutions that had the core competencies in two main areas; therapeutic and consumer business. WuXi was also brought in to help the genetic-testing-company tap into the lucrative Chinese market.

The CEO also revealed that the funds will be sufficient for a considerable amount of time, and that the company based in Mountain View, California will therefore not float the Initial Public Offering it was planning to tender in the financial year 2016.

Charles Keller, Fidelity Management & -Research Company’s spokesman, did not provide much information concerning the financing deal. He claimed that they have a strict policy that forbids the discussion of specific details about business dealings with their clients with the media or any other third parties. However, he stated that they strictly invest in a few private companies that are in their late development stages if they strongly believe that there is excellent long-term opportunity for its shareholders to gain from the business deal(s) they engage in.

23andMe Inc. is renowned for providing comprehensive reports on the ancestry of clients. However, it has not been including a health analysis on the susceptibility of their clients to genetic conditions because of a stand-off between the company and U.S.A’s Food & Drug Administration concerning whether or not it should have regulatory clearance to charge fees on its clients when conducting the tests. The stand-off started in 2013.

In February 2015, FDA granted 23andMe Inc. authorization to conduct tests for Bloom Syndrome. The regulatory authority also gave the company all the necessary approvals to carry out tests on autosomal –recessive –disorders (genetic conditions that can only be manifested if two abnormal genes {one from each parent} are present). In that regard, 23andMe Inc. has officially declared that it will have a refurbished product related to health analysis before December 2015.

23andMe Inc.’s president has declared that the funds obtained from Fidelity Management & -Research Company’s and other strategic partners will be invested in efforts to accelerate work on its novel product. The funds will also be used in expanding the company’s newly-launched drug discovery portfolio which was established in March 2015 under the stewardship of Richard Scheller (former Genentech veteran).

Additionally, the company based in Mountain View, California is setting up a state-of-the art research laboratory where therapeutic tests will be conducted. It’s also building a sequencing lab which will be used for testing consumer products and also for carrying out research.

According to Patrick Chung, the genetic-testing company is just about to fulfill two of its greatest ambitions; changing the way in which medical research is conducted and bringing the power of –genomics closer to its clients. Mr. Chung is a board member of 23andMe Inc. and also one of the people who established Xfund, a prominent venture capital firm in Menlo Park, CA.

Competition

23andMe Inc. faces stiff competition from other dealers of consumer –genetic testing kits. One of its competitors is Ancestry.com LLC, a company that sells DNA kits that are used for testing ancestry information.

According to reliable sources, the latter is in the advanced stages of developing a comprehensive health-focused testing-kit. It’s also partnering with manufactures of traditional drugs to provide data on the genetic code of clients in order to discover how certain diseases develop. Ancestry.com is also working closely with Calico, a bio-technology company established by Google Inc.

23andMe Inc. also faces stiff competition from Color- Genomics –genetic –testing kits for ovarian and breast cancer mutations. The kits have significantly increased in a market that was previously dominated by 23andMe Inc.

However, the company is not worried about the increased competition from its peers because of various reasons. It has a huge database of information on the genetic composition of its clients, has been in existence for several years, has built a strong base that consists of loyal clientele and has also obtained sufficient funds which will be invested in efforts to accelerate work on its novel product. The funds will also be used in expanding the company’s newly-launched drug discovery arm.

4 Tools to Analyze Your Personal DNA

GEDMatch ethnicity match

The rise of direct-to-consumer DNA testing has been revolutionary to say the least. Today, people can quickly get their DNA tested for a wealth of information.

One of the most common uses of DNA testing is in uncovering family genealogy. Using consumer DNA testing services, individuals can now uncover their family lines going back several generations. One can identify his or her racial makeup, familial ties and geographical background.

There are many online services offering DNA testing for ancestry purposes, including leaders AncestryDNA, Family TreeDNA and 23andme. For a quick overview & comparison of each test, check out MyFamilyDNATest.com.

Once you receive your DNA test results, analyzing the raw data can be difficult unless you are a bit of a genetic expert. To help people make sense of the data from their genealogical DNA tests, several tools have been developed.

Below, we take a quick look at 4 of the most popular tools to use for gleaning more information from your personal DNA data. Continue reading “4 Tools to Analyze Your Personal DNA” »

Researching Genealogy Online? Here are Ten Tips

Researching Genealogy Online? Here are Ten Tips

In ancestry research are so many questions often left unanswered regarding your family history, especially if you missed some key relatives in your tree.

Hence, the need for genealogy resources online.

In this blog, we have outlined some very important tips to help as you explore the journey to family history smoothly. Continue reading “Researching Genealogy Online? Here are Ten Tips” »

Facts On Common Prescription Drug Abuse

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Individuals who are abusing prescription drugs often have choices being made daily. They are making these choices because they are either addicted or just want to get or stay high. While every person has their own reasons, often it’s because their life isn’t in the place that they wish.Instead of changing it, they choose to be on drugs instead. While there could be different reasons, mainly it’s because they donèt have anything they want to become or have the courage to be.

Continue reading “Facts On Common Prescription Drug Abuse” »