Genealogy has become more than vital records and family trees. It has become entwined with genetics. Those of you who have used AncestryDNA to discover more about your genes may be interested in knowing that the company has partnered with Calico. Together, they intend to learn more about how to extend the human life span.
Calico is part of Alphabet (the new name for the conglomeration of companies previously referred to as Google). It is a medical research company that Google incubated in 2013. Calico is a Google-funded research and development company whose mission is to harness advanced technologies to increase our understanding of the biology that controls lifespan.
AncestryDNA is owned and operated by Ancestry.com. Many genealogists have used the AncestryDNA test to learn more about their ancient ancestry, to find distant cousins, and to learn more about their family history.
AncestryDNA and Calico have announced that they are going to work together to analyze and investigate the role of genetics and its influences in families experiencing unusual longevity. AncestryDNA will provide information from its proprietary databases, tools and algorithms. Calico will focus its efforts to develop and commercialize any potential therapeutics that emerge from the analysis.
Re/Code reports that AncestryDNA has genotyped the DNA sequence of over one million customers. It points out that Ancestry.com has more than two million paying subscribers who have created around seven million historical family trees. It also notes that Ancestry recently launched AncestryHealth.
That website enables genealogists to import the family tree they created at Ancestry.com (or create one on AncestryHealth). Those who use AncestryHealth may learn more about the health conditions and diseases that run in their family. They might also be able to connect what they learned from their AncestryDNA test.
The implication is that Calico wants the “treasure trove” of data that Ancestry has collected (and will continue to collect). There is potential that what they learn could benefit humanity by helping people to live longer, healthier, lives.
On the other hand, some people who have a subscription at Ancestry.com, or who used a DNA test kit from AncestryDNA might be concerned that their information will be used as part of the research regarding longevity. Wired reports that AncestryDNA will get to keep the full genome sequences from the Calico partnership and can do whatever they want to with them.
Image by Paolo on Flickr.
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