Firms such as 23andme and deCODEme have announced services whereby users get to decode their whole genetic sequence, revealing information on ancestry and risks of various illnesses.
Reading your genomic profile — learning your predispositions for various diseases, odd traits, and a talent or two — is something like going to a phantasmagorical family reunion. First you're introduced to the grandfather who died 23 years before you were born, then you move along for a chat with your parents, who are uncharacteristically willing to talk about their health — Dad's prostate, Mom's digestive tract. Next, you have the odd experience of getting acquainted with future versions of yourself, 10, 20, and 30 years down the road. Finally, you face the prospect of telling your children — in my case, my 8-month-old son — that he, like me, may face an increased genetic risk for glaucoma.
Companies into the genome decoding space include 23andme, Iceland based deCODEme, and Navigenics, a start-up from California. Google holds a minor stake in 23andme and is also co-founded by Anne Wojcicki, wife of Sergey Brin, Google's co-founder.
23andme is charging a sum of $999 for the sequencing process while deCODEme is offering the service at a marginally lower cost of $986.
After completion of the Human Genome Project, the research that went into sequencing the whole human species is now making it to the marketplace.
Knowing about susceptibility to certain diseases definitely helps, but critics are unsure whether the information may sit well with people.