Breakthrough of the Year

boy1.jpgA certain provider of personal genetic information is mentioned in Science magazine’s Breakthrough of the Year article, published in the Dec. 21 issue. The journal bestowed 2007 BotY honors on “Human Genetic Variation,” especially the genome-wide association studies that have linked dozens of diseases and conditions to particular single-letter variations in the genetic sequence. 23andMe couldn’t exist without those studies, so we tend to share Science’s view of them as pretty major achievements.

It was actually a sidebar about the advent of personal genomics that mentioned 23andMe by name. The sidebar also expressed concern that giving people their own genetic data could “open up a Pandora’s box of ethical issues.”

We agree that there are some serious issues people should consider before accessing their own genomes, and we enumerate them on this page of the 23andMe website. But like the fictional founder of Faber College in National Lampoon’s Animal House, we also believe “Knowledge is Good,” and the benefit of giving people access to their own genetic information far outweighs the potential risks.


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