Mapping out your genome is the 21st-century equivalent of staring deep inside your soul; it’s tempting to look, but terrifying what you might find. The DNA divers at 23andMe are hoping that slashing the price of their home-testing service — from $US300 down to $US100 — will be enough to tilt the scales towards discovery. Are they right?
23andMe, founded by Google honcho Sergey Brin’s sweetheart, has had sales aplenty before; back in 2011 it was free for a whole day. But this time the discount is permanent, thanks to a healthy round of funding from folks like, well, Sergey Brin. What’s that $US100 get you? Nothing less than your full genomic breakdown, an educated guess of how likely you are to succumb to cancer, Alzheimer’s, halitosis and so on.
It’s a tantalising prospect, but also a daunting one. If you’re due for Parkinson’s disease in 20 years, is it better to know that now and spend the next two decades worrying about it? Or would you rather live in blissful ignorance? Our own Elly Hart tried it a couple of years ago, which turned out to be a less-than-amazing experience for her. It can unnerving too, especially because it all just boils down to probabilities.
At least now the determining factor of to genome or not to genome is more likely to be interest than price. Three hundred bucks is a lot of money to find out anything; a hundred still ain’t cheap, but if you want to know this much about yourself this badly, it’s probably easier to scrape that much together. If you do, best of luck. At the very least, you’re genetically predisposed to certain kind of bravery. [23andMe via Geekosystem]