Monday, November 26, 2007

Home Genetic Test-kits: the new "gotta have it" holiday gift?

Remember home chemistry sets? Well, they're now officially passe since you can get your very own personal genome sequence from one of several fine establishments and do a paternity test in the comfort of your own home.

Beyond simple worries about fraud, there are a number of concerns brought up at DigitalBio, including privacy, liability and legality. I offer up the possibility of overriding GINA (or similar laws, should they ever get passed), and a question: when does information stop being information and just becomes an overload of data that a person does not know how to actually use or parse?


Kelly Hills said...


That's tempting. If I had that, I could re-do my customized screen saver (I had my DNA scrolling, Matrix-style, with some Buddhist sutras in kanji. I was bored at school one afternoon...)

Thing is, I remember my sister doing DNA stuff like this in high school. It seems pretty common these days - I think we might have missed the boat so far as discussing privacy, ethics, and the like, when teachers began doing cheek swabs and PCR in 10th grade.

For me, the interesting question is - given the rather high rate of children whose paternity test is not a match to their mother's spouse, how exactly are people handling it when it does come up? And what are the other practical, on the ground and running applications and implications?

All that aside, I think it's got some really interesting implications for DIYbiotech/art, too. The cheaper this stuff gets, the more Alba the Glowing Green Rabbits we're going to get. said...

The genealogy lists are doing testing for family lines (the tests are sold by the website) DNA .

They prefer to check the Y chromosome of the men in the family, but will add the mitochondrial DNA testing to the database for women. I do wonder about the consequences of some of the tests, that are bound to reveal that some one fell off the family tree.