Navigating Healthcare – Patient Safety and Personal Healthcare Management

Mapping Your Genome

There are increasing numbers of genome mapping services for $399 at 23 and me (this has come down significantly form the original $1,000) and now the new kid on the block is the oddly named Knome (know thyself) that is approaching this opportunity with what they see as a more complete strategy that includes personalized services that is personalized, includes discussion and consultation and makes specific reference to the need for privacy. The privacy is especially important given the potential for insurance denial and rate increases upon the identification of proven (or even ravenously linked) genomic related conditions.

In fact the company is offering the service through eBay (an odd perhaps marketing driven idea) with bidding starting at $68,000 (anything below $99,000 is a bargain as this is the rack rate direct currently)

The NY Times featured a review of this recently in a piece “Mapping the Human Genome via an eBay Auction”.  As they point out the cost of these services will inevitably come down:

Scientists envision that in a few years it will cost only $1,000 to determine the sequence of virtually all 6 billion chemical units of DNA in a person’s 46 chromosomes. Someday, such personal genetic blueprints could be used to predict people’s risk of disease and what drugs might work best for them.

But there is still a question as to the value of this service even at the bargain basement price of $68,000. It is not clear the additional value offered at Knome since the New England journal cited in the NY Times piece states there is still limited knowledge and understanding of genetic traits of disease and how that contributes to the disease process. In fact in a recent presentation that ePatient Dave featured on his blog and I found riveting from the TED group (Ideas worth Spreading) on how Bacteria communicate is just scratching the surface on the complex interactions that we are still trying to understand

So should you take this on, is it worth the money. As is often the case that depends……. If you have a family history that is significant (significant can mean many things but this is not just the occurrence of a clinical condition but an unusual incidence that occurs earlier than expected adjusted for age, sex etc) then this may be worthwhile.

For the average individual this coud be an interesting exercise but is statistically unlikely to reveal  any earth shattering news. Anybody that has used it and wants to comment on the usefulness, the process or other aspects of these services (are there others) please fire away and leave your comments below


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