Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Interesting Hearsay from Scientific American's Blog

I found this little notice on SciAm.com's blog. deCODE's $895 genome scan is priced perfectly for Christmas giving! But seriously, the price shows how cheaply genomic sequencing and scanning has dropped. The really interesting bit is at the end, regarding Honest Jim Watson and his recent comments about Africans -- what's the old saying? something about throwing stones and glass houses?

"File Under: Hearsay: Earlier this week, Kari Stefansson, a well-known geneticist and the founder of deCODE, an Icelandic company specializing in translating human genetics into drug development and diagnostic tools, stopped by the Scientific American offices to talk about a new project: For less than $1,000, anyone can send his company a cheek swab and get his or her genome scanned. Then, via the decodeme.com website, they can review a number of predetermined complex genetic disorders to assess his or her relative risk for developing maladies such as diabetes, myocardial infarction and even restless leg syndrome.

In addition, you can check your ancestry to get an idea of the geographical distribution of their forefathers. According to Stefansson, when he put in James Watson's genome, which was sequenced earlier this year and made publicly available, the legendary geneticist turned out to be 20 percent African. (When we checked his claim, it was more like 16 percent, but with rounding, fine.) Stefansson remarked that the ancestry test suggests that Watson had at least one African ancestor within two or three generations of his birth.

Like I said, this is just gossip. But it would be ironic. Don't cha think? A little too ironic."

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