Up at 5AM: The 5AM Solutions Blog

My 23andMe Results - Part II

Posted on Thu, May 19, 2011 @ 01:28 PM

I realize it has been almost a year since I posted 'My 23andMe Results - Part I'. You're probably wondering what has happened in the last year. Here are some brief updates.

I have not taken 23andMe up on their offer of a new chip with twice as many SNPs, although the fact that they now report on both SNPs you need to assess Alzheimer's risk has made me think about it. And their ever-changing pricing models are giving me whiplash.

I have used SNPTips to browse my 23andMe data while I'm surfing the web. We're working on a new version that will support Firefox 4, deCODEme data, and allow you to use it even without any genomic data. It will be out soon.

I have spoken to several of my doctors about my results, although not in the context of any particular condition I thought I might have. Unfortunately none of them had anything useful to say about it, or had even heard of 23andMe. Maybe I need new physicians?

I wrote a quick script to look for runs of homozygosity in my data. It looks for regions of more than 200 SNPs in a row where there only homozygous genotypes. Here's a region on chromosome 2, where the first row is the genes in the region and the second row marks the regions that met that criteria. What this means, I confess I don't know, but anybody with suggestions, get in touch.

run of homozygosity resized 600

The Gene Sherpa wrote a blog post, inspired by my blog post, about how I was ignoring the 23andMe terms of service, which was true. Then another blogger tried, in a post that has since been removed (http://www.thinkgene.com/medical-offices-cannot-use-23andme-due-to-23andmes-contract/) to argue that my doctor was opening himself up to malpractice lawsuits, which in my opinion is crazy talk.

I attended a meeting of the FDA Molecular and Clinical Genetics Panel that is advising the FDA on how to regulate direct-to-consumer genetics tests. There are transcripts (day one and two) available. Dr. Nancy Wexler made this statement at that meeting:
They [direct-to-consumer genetics companies] take advantage of the Human Genome Project by raping its information and using it for their own commercial gain and avarice.
While it's easy to dismiss this as crazy talk, too, it's also hard to argue that some companies are trying to use less-than-validated science to make money. There is a company called AIBioTech that markets a test called Sports X Factor. They've posted some sample results which look pretty sketchy. One of them, for a SNP in VEGFR2 gene, claims to predict 'elite athlete status' in women. I found the paperthis claim is based on and it is a study of Russian women athletes, comparing 471 of them to 603 controls. The whole paper is behind a paywall, but it looks to be a relatively small study and doesn't apear to be replicated in any other populations.
But I find it hard to single out personal genomics companies for this kind of behavior when there are other industries doing the same thing. The dietary supplement and probiotic industries do this all the time. Here's the label for Align:
Your body needs beneficial bacteria for a number of things, including healthy digestion. But they're fragile. Common issues such as diet, changes in routine, travel and stress can disrupt your natural balance of good bacteria. Bifantis(R), only found in Align(R), is a probiotic that naturally replenishes your digestive system with healthy bacteria.*
Potent Skin Clearing Action*
The * for both indicates that:
This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
Which is not unlike the statement that 23andMe makes in its terms of service:
You understand that information you learn from 23andMe is not designed to diagnose, prevent, or treat any condition or disease
Hopefully it won't be a year until I blog about this topic again. Thanks for reading!

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