The obvious initial application for genome scanning I guess would always be for health reasons and sure enough there are now at least four commercial set-ups ready to scan and analyse your genes to tell you what nasty diseases you are likely to suffer from in the future (that’s assuming that you haven’t already).
The aptly named decodeme.com offers to scan you for eighteen known diseases at a special introductory price of $985! There are even discounts for bulk purchases – no you don’t need more than one scan, but you could bring the family along – strange, I thought the point of all this was that these diseases were inherited, so the results would all be the same!
On their user-friendly web site the Decodeme folks point out that they will not only tell you what you are going to die of (my words), but where your ancestors came from. Hmph, do I really want to know this?
Knome.com adopt a more clinical style with their limited offer to twenty people who they say for $350,000 (A bit more up-market than decodeme.com then) can help “pioneer an emerging science” and give the Knome people a nice retirement. (I added that last bit!). They are quite open about their motives. “We are a for-profit, privately held genomics company …” You ain’t kiddin’!
The catchily-named 32andme.com ask “Do you have your Mother’s sense of taste” – shit, I hope not! Now that might give me the incentive to sign up for this thing. At least I could top myself at the first sign of floral patterns in my wardrobe! The great thing about this is that its mail-order – yup, you heard me! No pretence here about white coats and science, this is straight-from-the-hip, sure-fire genetics for the masses – and for only $999!
The fourth that I came across was Navigenics.com whose “Navigenics Health Compass” comes in at a mainstream 2,500 bucks and you get your own website thrown in(?) Hey, don’t ask me ask them!
Most of these organisations say that while they will scan you for the conditions that are recognisable with today’s knowledge, they will also update you as new discoveries come along. Sort of puts a whole new slant on the old joke about the guy at the doctors who asks “OK doc so tell me how long have I got?” and the doctor says something like “don’t buy any long-playing records” (That’s a joke for those of us who remember vinyl). I can see it now …
You are sitting in a meeting and you get an SMS that says “u hve 3 mins 2 get 2 hosptl. Jst dscvrd u r going 2 die of …”.
Thankfully Specificmatch.com have put this science to really worthwhile use with a genetic dating service. Yes, now you can be genetically compatible. All your troubles are over – no more marital tiffs or divorces. Of course when a “new discovery” prompts a change in diagnosis the SMS is a bit different – “sry marid rong wmn!” I wonder if you could make them liable for the alimony?
January 31, 2008