5 Dec, 14 | by Iain Brassington
And so 23andMe has launched in the UK.
For those not familiar with it, 23andMe allows individuals to swab themselves and have their genome analysed, at a cost of £125. The company is offering to generate a report covering about a hundred traits, giving information on a range of potentially important to fun things: the list includes tests for the presence or absence of inherited conditions such as Tay-Sachs and Beta Thalassemia; risk factors relating to things like Alzheimer’s; how much DNA you have in common with Neanderthals; and earwax type.
To be honest, I’d’ve thought that by the time you’ve got £125 to spend on a test like this, you’d probably know all you’d ever want to know about your earwax, but… well, apparently there’s more. Joy.
Anyway: BBC Breakfast invited me to witter on about it the other day. I only got a couple of minutes, and so didn’t get to say much; shamelessly, I’m going to think aloud a little bit here. My basic starting point is that it’s hard to see why the test per se is too big a problem: all else being equal, who would begrudge a person information about himself? All the same, I think that there are questions that are probably worth asking. (NB: in what follows, whenever I mention 23andMe, the point should be taken to cover any company offering a similar service.) So, in no particular order… more…