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November 23, 2010 8:47 PM   Subscribe

Personal genomics company 23andMe is holding their one-day $99 sale again tomorrow (Wednesday, November 24th). I'm mentioning it here because we discussed it on MetaTalk last time they had a sale and it generated a lot of interest from MeFites, many of whom signed up. The sale starts at 10 AM, and you must use the code B84YAG at checkout.
posted by Asparagirl to MetaFilter-Related at 8:47 PM (64 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

Related AskMe here. Can anyone tell us what, if anything, has changed since the asker asked his/her question? It seems like the consensus was that there really wasn't all that much that these services could do. I welcome any correction or clarification.
posted by jjjjjjjijjjjjjj at 8:58 PM on November 23, 2010


It used to be that there were only two possible means of tracing one's ancestry/genealogy through genetic tests: there was y-chromosome testing (your father's father's father's...father's line, direct paternal only) and your mitochondrial DNA (mother's mother's mother's...mother's line, direct maternal only). And of course if you were female, you had to get a close male relative to the former of those for you. Those two tests are still used by genetic genealogists, but they are no longer the state of the art. (But if you're a genealogy dork like me, they can still tell you an awful lot. See my long-ass AskMeFi answer about these kinds of tests, and what they can tell you, from 2009.)

Newer services like 23andMe, or FamilyTreeDNA.com's new Family Finder service (genetic arms races aren't just for countries!), now do a full autosomal DNA scan, meaning that they also check all the other chromosomes, which could have filtered down to you from a bunch of different relatives. They look at your genetic make-up as a whole and compare you to everyone else in their database and let you know if you share an unusually large overlap with anyone else, indicating that you two probably had a common ancestor at some point. This kind of test doesn't require the testee to be of a particular gender, since it's testing the non-sex-linked chromosomes. If you are from, say, a Northern European background there is a good chance you could find a genuine relative or two through this method. If you are from a small previously-isolated genetic group like an Icelander or a Mennonite or a Jew, then you will get a scary illustrated look at how fricking inbred you, and the rest of your community, are. :-)

But that's just the "ancestry" part of the scan. Unlike FamilyTreeDNA.com, 23andMe will also provide a "health" scan for all sorts of genetic markers for diseases, like the BRCA breast cancer genes, or Parkinson's, or venous thromboembolism, or Rheumatoid Arthritis. They also test for "traits", which covers not-very-useful-but-kinda-fun phenotypical information, like photic sneeze reflex (i.e. the genetic propensity to sneeze when exposed to bright sunlight), or curly hair, or earwax type (wet or dry?), or the ability to detect smelly pee after you've eaten asparagus (yes, really). It's pretty neat. And you can participate in surveys on their site to help them find new SNPs based on your, and other members', answers. They publish their latest data every year or so at genetic conferences. I think they're busy looking for food allergy and migraine genes right now.

I've tested a bunch of my relatives and my husband's relatives through the service and it's pretty neat to actually do side-by-side comparison of genetics using their web tools, to show exactly where and from whom we've inherited certain bits of our chromosomes. I plan to have my son join the service too, eventually, so we can see which genes he got from me and which from my husband -- but not at the moment, because I think teaching a toddler how to spit in order to collect a sample could be, on the whole, a counter-productive and unwise exercise...
posted by Asparagirl at 9:24 PM on November 23, 2010 [6 favorites]


Oh man, I actually bought a kit for my wife and me last time and we still haven't done the damn test yet. Thanks for the reminder!
posted by kmz at 9:25 PM on November 23, 2010


I got it done last time around, and I was pretty pleased by the results. They must be doing more extensive scanning than the type mentioned in that AskMe, because they regularly update your profile with checks against the latest research.

The main categories are disease risks, drug reactions, general "traits" (yes I sort of feel like I saw my character sheet now) and the ancestry stuff. I have requests pending from five different potential fourth or fifth cousins who want to chat. (I can choose to do anything from respond anonymously to compare DNA directly, which is kinda neat.

I have no idea how hard the science is, but for the well-known gene markers, I am happier to have some info - particularly because I was adopted and have zero family history to go on. I certainly can't argue with the price.
posted by restless_nomad at 9:35 PM on November 23, 2010


10 AM...PST? EST?
posted by cmonkey at 9:38 PM on November 23, 2010


Not sure, but I believe 23andMe is based in California, so maybe PST? Latest updates on the sale here, from the "Your Genetic Genealogist" blog.

It looks like there will also be a new option for people like me who have already tested, that we can now opt to upgrade our results to the newer chipset, which tests more SNP's...for a fee. *sigh*
posted by Asparagirl at 9:45 PM on November 23, 2010


This looks really cool, but before I go and spend a couple of hundred dollars, can someone tell me if this test will actually provide useful results. That is, if it identifies risk factors, are these tests based on sufficiently hard evidence that I should take them seriously? Because for $100 (well, $160 really, with the subscription), that would be cool. But if it's just entertainment, not so much. Asparagirl, you seem to think that this is the real deal. But is it worth waiting another couple of years until they do full sequencing at the same price, or is that farther off?
posted by Dasein at 10:14 PM on November 23, 2010


Thanks, I've been wanting to try this, but not enough to pay several hundred (or thousand!) dollars.
posted by cmonkey at 10:16 PM on November 23, 2010


I hope they do this sale again in April, I'm really looking forward to doing it.
posted by keli at 10:39 PM on November 23, 2010


I got it done last time around, and I was pretty pleased by the results. They must be doing more extensive scanning than the type mentioned in that AskMe, because they regularly update your profile with checks against the latest research.

Yeah, I really like that part of it. It's like the gift that keeps on giving, if by "gift" you mean "awareness of genetic propensity for psoriasis"!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:27 PM on November 23, 2010


I don't know when a direct-to-consumer ompany will offer full sequencing for a reasonable price. I'm waiting for that day, too. But 23andMe offers a goodly number of SNP's and continually updates their database, so for me I think it's worth it as something more than "hey, neat toy." This is the list of health stuff they currently test for, based on previously published papers. 23andMe also announced recently that they were able to replicate many of those papers' findings using the (voluntary) customer health surveys matched up with customer data, which is good news. And their blog, the Spitoon talks about what new papers have been published lately and gives the raw SNP data to you so you can look it up in your results.

But there's no "OMG, you must do this now" aspect to any of this. It's not something people need to do, by any means. So if you're on the fence, you may as well wait for the next sale.

I really don't want to sound like a shill for them, though -- my primary purpose in getting involved with direct-to-consumer genomics testing was for my longstanding genealogy hobby, not for genetic health matters. And for pure genealogical research value, I actually recommend FamilyTreeDNA.com over 23andMe. But they're not the ones having the sale tomorrow.
posted by Asparagirl at 11:36 PM on November 23, 2010


Apparently, it tests for Maple syrup urine disease Type 1B, which sounds warm and cuddly until you actually read about it. Also, avoid getting Buttersworthitis Type 2, it's deadly.
posted by blueberry at 12:02 AM on November 24, 2010


I feel compelled to point out that the code "B84YAG" actually contains hidden masonic symbolism. "Be 84", it suggests, clearly referring to Dr. Juno Jordan, the famous masonic numerologist who lived from 1884 to 1984. Y means - why? What is the purpose of looking at Dr Jordan's seminal work, "The Romance in Your Name" - ? "AG" is the answer, the "Great Architect (Of The Universe)", who is the dark Masonic God, and entering this code on the website mentioned is clearly equivalent to a formal prayer to the Great Architect to give your own "genetic" name his foul, infernal power, in return for your very SOUL.

But, 99 bucks is a pretty good price! So I'm torn, personally.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 3:12 AM on November 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


Has anyone used the discount yet? Is it working? It still shows $499 on the front page.
posted by hal_c_on at 3:48 AM on November 24, 2010


I got the discount code working...

Does anyone know: Is the subscription worth buying? Or if it's worth doing without the subscription?
posted by criticalbill at 4:01 AM on November 24, 2010


It is only 4am Pacific Time. She said the sale starts at 10am.
posted by vacapinta at 4:02 AM on November 24, 2010


oh I see, you can't buy it without a subscription
posted by criticalbill at 4:04 AM on November 24, 2010


Yes, I got it working now too. It shows 499 on the front page, but after you type in the code you get a discount applied which brings it down to 99 per person.
posted by vacapinta at 4:48 AM on November 24, 2010


Will my wife learn more about her ancestry if she has her brother tested?
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:50 AM on November 24, 2010


Will my wife learn more about her ancestry if she has her brother tested?

Yes--women can't learn about their paternal line through their own DNA test since they have no Y chromosome.

Regarding the risk factors--they do a couple of tests that have very clear cut results about serious diseases, but unless you're adopted you probably already know whether you need them done or not and could get them covered by insurance (for example testing for BRCA1 mutations for women with a family history of breast cancer, or testing Tay-Sachs carrier status for Jewish and French Canadian couples). Most of the tests are fuzzier in their results or are about unimportant stuff.

I bought it the last time it was on sale and I thought $100 was a fair price for what you get. I don't think it's worth the full price except for hardcore genealogists or adoptees.
posted by phoenixy at 5:05 AM on November 24, 2010


So I went to the doctor yesterday to get tested for MEN2, and they said they don't do that test there, and that genetic testing is really expensive and isn't always covered by your insurance, but they would give me a referral to a hematology/oncology doctor to have it done. My question here is can I just pay $99 and get my genome thing instead, will that tell me what I need to know? (Namely, whether or not I inherited MEN2 from my moms)
posted by Grither at 5:36 AM on November 24, 2010


Wait, what is this ridiculous subscription nonsense? After one year, they stop sending you matches and discard your samples? Dick move, duders.
posted by elizardbits at 5:36 AM on November 24, 2010


Asparagirl: " This is the list of health stuff they currently test for, based on previously published papers."

Oh, well, I guess I shoulda read that right there instead. Looks like it's a no. Thanks for the link!
posted by Grither at 5:39 AM on November 24, 2010


So the actual price is $160, with the one-year subscription? And, as a New Yorker, I have to go to NJ or someplace to mail the kit?
posted by uncleozzy at 5:51 AM on November 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, the subscription thing is new, the services they give you in it used to be included in the base price.
Personally I would say go for the subscription if you have the money to burn--the entertainment value is a lot greater with the updates. I guess they probably update it once or twice a month. Being able to download the raw data and run it through Promethease and other third-party analysis tools is pretty worthwhile too.
posted by phoenixy at 6:49 AM on November 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


They are making progress on important questions such as whether or not people who do & don't smell asparagus in their pee metabolize differently or smell differently. Also they can predict your eye color, sort of, if that seems helpful to you. Of course they are using self-reported web survey data to do these studies so they have some of the same problems as those OK Cupid data mining posts that are so popular here.
posted by yarrow at 6:59 AM on November 24, 2010


With all due respect, I am not giving a Google property my genetic information. They already know enough about me and my family as it is.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:33 AM on November 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


With all due respect, I am not giving a Google property my genetic information. They already know enough about me and my family as it is.

So just wait until Apple launches iGene iScreen for the iPad iOs. :)
posted by zarq at 7:50 AM on November 24, 2010


With all due respect, I am not giving a Google property my genetic information. They already know enough about me and my family as it is.

Google has invested in the company, but it isn't a Google property.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/6682451.stm
posted by grahams at 7:56 AM on November 24, 2010


Sure. Apple etc. Though after listening to the CEO, I think I'd be better off keeping my disease markers away from his company's investments, even if there's a sale going on.

Google has invested in the company, but it isn't a Google property.

Google owns (I think) about 10% of the company, and the woman who runs it is Sergey Brin's wife.

Even with GINA, for lack of strong privacy laws and generally lax corporate regulation in the United States, some caution or informed consent might be warranted, perhaps.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:06 AM on November 24, 2010


I guess the code thing is over, eh? I keep getting "invalid code". Mer. Must've been 10 AM EST.
posted by kanata at 8:37 AM on November 24, 2010


kanata: "I guess the code thing is over, eh? I keep getting "invalid code". Mer. Must've been 10 AM EST"

Supposedly the sale runs from Wed. 11/24,10am to Fri. 11/26,12am. So maybe the code was accidentally turned on too early and will be back at 10am?
posted by sharkfu at 8:45 AM on November 24, 2010


We did it under fake names and throwaway email addresses.
posted by anniecat at 8:45 AM on November 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


According to that "Your Genetic Genealogist" blog I linked earlier, the code will start working again at 10 AM Pacific Time.
posted by Asparagirl at 8:50 AM on November 24, 2010


Anyone know if this is still working? My wife has a deep seated hypochondriac streak in her and I'm sure she'd be thrilled to know that she's genetically predisposed to all manner of malady.
posted by quin at 8:54 AM on November 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


ah.
posted by quin at 8:57 AM on November 24, 2010


Did this last year, got my results back and was all, "Oooh, neat! I'm haplogroup H1A1. Which means... I'm 120% white girl. Mostly Swedish. DUH."

I then screwed around with my profile for a while, learned that I'm genetically predisposed to almost no maladies. So that's good too.

But was it the the genealogical journey of my dreams? Nah. Cool, but not groundbreaking.

However, if I were adopted, or otherwise seriously unsure of my genetic past, I think it would be really worth it.
posted by functionequalsform at 9:37 AM on November 24, 2010


Funtionequalsform, I'm H1A1 too!! Family reunion!!! Right in time for the turduckin!!!

My family tree was 100% navy. My husband laughed....I'm buying him one this year....just so we can compare our degrees of navy-hood.

Welcome to the fam!!!
posted by pearlybob at 9:41 AM on November 24, 2010


Of course I would have all my fascinating/scary questions coming from my dad's side. I wonder if my little brother would freak out at this as his Christmas gift.
posted by SMPA at 9:42 AM on November 24, 2010


If I was using Google while logged in and searched for some Lil Wayne lyrics and it found them in my genome, I'd be pretty psyched.
posted by haveanicesummer at 9:53 AM on November 24, 2010


I hope that someone posts when this is available again - it's something I would love to do (along with afford an ancestry.com membership, but it's just really not feasible this year. I'm such a family history nerd, anything related sends me off into a spiral of record reading and glee.
posted by saturnine at 10:07 AM on November 24, 2010


SMPA: "I wonder if my little brother would freak out at this as his Christmas gift."

That depends entirely on how you procure the sample that you have to mail in.
posted by Grither at 10:40 AM on November 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I just ordered one for my mom. This is going to give my family something to talk about for the whole of 2011.
posted by ukdanae at 11:48 AM on November 24, 2010


If you're Canadian it's :

$99 + $49.95 (shipping) + $60 (1 year subscription) = $209.95
posted by blue_beetle at 11:49 AM on November 24, 2010


So now in a few weeks, we will know with a much higher degree of certainty if my wife is, in fact, made of "sugar, spice, and all that is nice".

My composition of frogs, snails, and puppy dog tails is not in question. You are, after all, what you eat.
posted by quin at 12:13 PM on November 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I just had the awkward "you may not remember me since you have not run into me in six months, but I got your cell phone number from your ex-neighbor so I could call and tell you about this because a couple years back you mentioned you were adopted and you wished you knew what some of your ethnic background and medical predispositions are, so I thought of you and here is this sale and promotional code" conversation via my cell phone.

I need at least one awkward conversation per day.
posted by adipocere at 12:33 PM on November 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


According to predictions, individual genome sequencing should be under a thousand in2014. It looks like it's currently about 20k, and from what I can tell, probably won't fit on a single DVD. Hopefully in that time Blueray data discs and drives will be cheap enough. SNPs are interesting and all, but as this stuff comes online, more complicated analysis will be available. I can't wait for this day, if it means all the social networks people shut up and start talking about protein networks.

Sadly, it won't likely be affordable in time for my 90 year old grandfather. Not that it can cure his dementia or other chronic aging diseases, but it'd be personally interesting and possibly useful for his sons and family.
posted by pwnguin at 12:42 PM on November 24, 2010


According to predictions, individual genome sequencing should be under a thousand in2014. It looks like it's currently about 20k, and from what I can tell, probably won't fit on a single DVD.

This seems rather unlikely to me. A single human genome should comfortably fit on one DVD even if completely uncompressed. We're talking a couple billion base pairs on a disc that can hold up to, what, 15 gigabytes?
posted by Justinian at 2:00 PM on November 24, 2010


How likely is it that a screening will make its way to an insurance company and be flagged as a pre-existing condition? Is it easy to submit the sample under a false identity? When signing up I accidentally put my real name in the block where it says "kit will be sent to you marked with this name"... I wonder if this can be undone.
posted by crapmatic at 2:14 PM on November 24, 2010


I haven't used this but I thought I'd mention it:

Promethease
"Promethease is a tool to build a report based on SNPedia and a file of genotypes. Customers of testing services (23andMe, deCODEme, FamilyTreeDNA, Navigenics, ...) can use it to learn more about their DNA. It can also pool the data from multiple testing services."
posted by sharkfu at 2:34 PM on November 24, 2010


Justinian: "We're talking a couple billion base pairs on a disc that can hold up to, what, 15 gigabytes?"

A dual layer DVD holds 8 Gigs. But there's also the raw chromatagraph data which is huge, and the individual shotgun sequences produced from it that are assembled into the longer strands we generally call the genome. One site was saying they did 90fold coverage, which sounds pretty high to my amateur ear.

All that should compress pretty damn well though.
posted by pwnguin at 2:58 PM on November 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


How likely is it that a screening will make its way to an insurance company and be flagged as a pre-existing condition? Is it easy to submit the sample under a false identity?

This is how I did it, Anton: I never saved anything for the swim back.
posted by Justinian at 3:01 PM on November 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


A dual layer DVD holds 8 Gigs.

Per side. A single sided dual layer DVD holds 8 gigs; a double sided dual layer DVD holds 16 gigs.
posted by Justinian at 3:02 PM on November 24, 2010


Justinian: "A dual layer DVD holds 8 Gigs.

Per side. A single sided dual layer DVD holds 8 gigs; a double sided dual layer DVD holds 16 gigs.
"

I don't think they make those in DVD-R, and I'm not sure a pressed DVD service will work well in quantities of 1. Plus, it'd be two file systems that you have to flip to access. They'd just as soon use two DVD-R DLs, or internet distribution.
posted by pwnguin at 3:24 PM on November 24, 2010


Okay, I'll concede that two DVD-Rs are more likely than one double sided dual layer DVD. For something between 8gb and 16gb. I do think this sort of thing should compress way down, though, which would likely allow it to fit on one DVD-R.

That we're talking about whether we will soon be able to get our own personal genome sequence delivered to us on one DVD or instead will require two DVDs is very SFnal. I'm sure, as with Louis C.K.'s bit on people complaining about the minutiae of air travel, that some guy will receive his personal genome soon and start complaining that it is "annoying bullshit" that he has to switch DVDs to see the whole thing.
posted by Justinian at 4:38 PM on November 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think there is a lot of formatting built into a genome. But they have a number to choose from.

I feel that it's annoying bullshit that I can't watch procedurally generated movies of all the protein protein interactions in E. coli and I already realize that I'm wanting to suck up a considerable percentage of the Earth's data processing power.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:45 PM on November 24, 2010


kmz according to my receipt today, "the kit expires in 12 months (any samples received 12 months after today's date will not be processed by the lab).
posted by nelvana at 8:44 PM on November 24, 2010


Here's a really really stupid question: I understand that my mom will only be able to see her maternal line through the scan, but what if we got her brother to do it? Would that still give her the same kind of results, because it's all about their parental genes? Or is that a dumb idea, since they are two different people?
posted by ukdanae at 12:24 AM on November 25, 2010


From what I understand, as long as they share a father, you should see her paternal line through her brother, and their maternal line through both of them.
posted by SMPA at 8:22 AM on November 25, 2010


I ordered one, even though it's sill just as bad an idea as it was in April. I want to get my hubby done though, so we can know whether he's going to go bald.
posted by subbes at 8:57 AM on November 25, 2010


Having your uncle sequenced would tell your more about your grandfather, but not necessarily about what genes your mother inherited from him.

I would assume that having your uncle sequenced would give evidence of his Y chromosome which he could only inherited from his and your other's father. Information from that would pertain to both of them if used to, say, determine your ethnic background. However, any interesting genes on the Y chromosome would not have been passed down to your mother and the rest of the chromosomes could have been inherited from either parent. (Your uncle could only have inherited his X chromosome from your grandmother, but since she had 2 and only passed 1 on to your mother, there's no way of know if it was the same X.) The Y chromosome is only passed down in the male line - sons inherit it from their fathers, daughters do not. Ribosomal DNA can only being passed on by women, but men and women both inherit it from their mothers

Unless I've gotten something terribly wrong.
posted by maryr at 8:07 PM on November 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is this really only $99? It seems that upon analysis they require you to sign up for a 1 year subscription which means the price is $258. Does anyone know if this is true? Or is it really $99 for just a one time analysis?
posted by bluefly at 7:33 AM on December 18, 2010


It really was only $99 for me, and I've been getting all the updates. I'm only about halfway through my first year, though. (This was from the sale in May - dunno if they changed the terms, but a friend signed up this time, and I haven't heard anything to the contrary from her yet.)
posted by restless_nomad at 9:34 AM on December 18, 2010


bluefly: "Is this really only $99? It seems that upon analysis they require you to sign up for a 1 year subscription which means the price is $258. Does anyone know if this is true? Or is it really $99 for just a one time analysis"

They had a one day sale of $99 for the sequencing, but it required a one year subscription of their "Personal Genome Service" (updates on analysis of your DNA) at $5/month. So $99 + $15 shipping for the kit + $5x12 = $185.

They've extended the sale on sequencing through 12/25. They've also added a "1 year prepaid gift subscription" which, for some reason, gets added to the cart as $559 with a $400 discount (lumped in with the discount for the sequencing). So the total comes to $258 (+$15 kit shipping). I'm not sure if this an accident (the discount should be $500 to bring it down to $60) or by design (paying in advance brings a premium or they're hoping gift givers won't do the math?). If I was ordering a gift, I'd probably shoot them an email to try to figure out the price discrepancy.

A previous one day sale in April on DNA Day had the sequencing for $99 and updates for free, which is probably the deal restless_nomad got in on.
posted by sharkfu at 10:17 AM on December 18, 2010


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