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Consumer health IT

23andMe launches web service for genetic information

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. – 23andMe, Inc., a privately-held personal genetics company, was officially launched last month and has begun offering its services directly to consumers in the United States. 23andMe, named after the 23 pairs of chromosomes in human cells, is helping individuals understand their own genetic information through the latest advances in DNA analysis and web-based interactive tools.

According to 23andMe, whose investors include Google Inc., the 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.

The 23andMe Odds Calculator helps customers put it all in perspective, allowing them to combine genetic information, age, and ethnicity to get an idea of which common health concerns are most likely to affect persons with their genetic profiles. While the Odds Calculator is neither a medical diagnostic nor a substitute for medical advice, it can help them confront the bewildering array of health news reported in the mass media and help decide where they may want to focus attention.

23andMe’s Marker Effects chart helps customers see how certain genes contribute to a person’s chances of developing a condition or disease – providing context to their own genetic information. And as the science keeps advancing, 23andMe will update its charts to reflect the latest research, the company said.

Are you more closely related to European royalty or American outlawry? Consumers may use 23andMe’s Ancestry tools to find out whether their maternal lineage links them more closely to Marie Antoinette or Jesse James. A 23andMe account also connects you genetically to many other celebrities and historical figures, from Bono to Ben Franklin.

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 bar-coded 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, a leading developer of genetic analysis tools (Nasdaq: ILMN), 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.”

23andMe’s Genetic Comparisons tool allows you to see where you fall genetically with respect to your friends and family. You can compare yourself to others across all your genetic data, or look only at groups of genes affecting certain traits. You can line yourself up to just one other person or all of your participating friends and family at once.

About 23andMe

23andMe, Inc. is a privately held personal genetics company dedicated to helping individuals understand their own genetic information through DNA analysis technologies and web-based interactive tools. The company’s Personal Genome Service enables individuals to gain deeper insights into their ancestry and inherited traits. 23andMe, Inc., was founded by Linda Avey and Anne Wojcicki in 2006, and the company is advised by a group of renowned experts in the fields of human genetics, bioinformatics and computer science. Its Series A investors include Genentech, Inc., Google Inc. and New Enterprise Associates. More information is available at