There is a lot to be learned from the human genome. Research done on DNA has revealed important information that connects specific genetic mutations and certain diseases. There is more to be discovered. This could be why 23andMe launched new genotyping services for research.
As you may know, 23andMe sells direct-to-consumer DNA test kits. People purchase the kit, send in a sample of their saliva, and receive results that will tell them more about themselves. The results include more than 65 personalized genetic reports. The test reveals information that can help a person explore their health and ancestry.
23andMe has amassed a lot of data about genetics and their connection to disease. They only use the information from people who have given 23andMe permission to use their genetic information in studies that relate to specific genes or diseases. This is a wealth of resources for researchers who are trying to find a genetic connection to a disease or condition – or who hope to find a cure.
23andMe is now offering scientists the ability to use 23andMe’s unique platform for discovery. The company launched a new Genotyping Service for Research (GSR). This new platform gives researchers, who would like to recruit their own research participants, an end-to-end service that incorporates genetic information into their studies, provides a seamless way to collect phenotypic information, and an easy way to track that information.
Genotyping is the process of determining the genetic constitution – the genotype – of an individual by examining their DNA sequence. It reveals things that are in a person’s genes that cannot be discovered simply by looking at them.
For example, a person may have brown eyes. That person could carry two dominant genes that result in brown eyes. Or, the person might carry one dominant gene that results in brown eyes and one recessive gene that results in blue eyes. You would never know the person carried a gene for blue eyes just by looking at them. What you can see by looking at a person (for example, brown eyes) is that person’s phenotype.
Those who are 23andMe customers, and who have signed on to pilot the GSR platform, are helping researchers to conduct studies as varied as smoking cessation, cognitive impairment in glioma patients, as well as addictions and psychiatric disorders. The GSR platform may accelerate breakthrough discoveries in complex diseases such as multiple sclerosis.
Another interesting thing about 23andMe’s GSR platform is that it enables researchers to give results back to the participants in the form of the 23andMe experience. It is believed that this could be a huge advantage in recruiting participants for research studies and in the way research studies of the future will be conducted.
Image by Vall d’Hebron Institut de Recera VHIR on Flickr
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