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Monday, 19 November 2007

Pesronal genome management

There are 160m Americans looking for health information online and somewhere in the realm of 10–30% of those are viewing and creating their own content. But that has made moderate impact on the mainstream press (with Laura Landro being an honorable exception). So it was a little surprising to see both the WSJ and the NY Times feature a related issue in the last week—online genetic screening.

Suddenly the concept of getting your genome tested and laid out online is really hot. 23andme (with its Google connection and Esther Dyson on the board) and Navigenics (with Kleiner Perkins and MDV as blue chip VCs in a $25m round) are the two best known west coast players. 23andme has already found out that Warren and Jimmy Buffet are not related and you can go to their site and sign up for their service for under $1,000. (And learn lots more about it in this Wired article) But they’re not alone. In Boston, Knome is gearing up for something similar and Icelandic company DeCODE genetics, which already has a database with the island’s entire population in it, has also introduced a similar service called DeCodeMe.
And of course there’s The Personal Genome Project. It’s an effort led by George Church and includes 10 people who are putting all their genetic information online. (One is Esther Dyson of course)

Meanwhile, plenty of other companies are doing genetic testing mostly on genealogy grounds. The Genetic Genealogist Blog estimates that some 600,000 tests have been done and they are worth about $300 each. but for an annual market, that’s only $25m. The Genetic Genealogist Blog also has a long list of those genetic companies.
Finally, while there’s all this excitement about doing comprehensive DNA testing, DNADirect has been offering a direct to consumer service for a couple of years which offers the most common tests. You can see their price list here. One estimate which seems in the ball park is that the total market for that testing is $200m.

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