23andMe DNA Testing Review
DNA Relative Matching
DNA Chromosome Browser
Big Pool of Users
Regularly Occurring Sales
Expensive If You Don't Need Health Reports
Separate Accounts For Separate Tests
Customer Service Complaints
Results Can Take Longer Than Competitions Tests
23andMe DNA Testing Review
23andMe Tests for Ancestry, Health Conditions, and Neanderthal Genes
The genetic testing company 23andMe is one of the oldest companies analyzing human DNA for ancestry and health information. Available to anyone with one hundred and ninety nine dollars, the kit uses a saliva test to gather DNA at home. The customer then views online reports of ethnic ancestry, heritable health conditions and other traits, and has access to raw genetic data. There is also an opt-in feature for connecting with other customers who share similar genetic profiles and may be related.
The company was founded in 2006 and is located in Mountain View, California. It was the first such company to begin widely marketing personalized genetic tests directly to the public. In its decade of existence, the company has gathered over 650,000 individual DNA tests into its database.
23andMe stands out for its comprehensive, forty-plus reports on genetic diseases like cystic fibrosis, Parkinson’s disease, and inheritable forms of breast and ovarian cancer. The test does not tell you if you have any of these conditions, only whether or not you carry a recessive gene which could lead to the disease or could be passed on to your descendants.
23andMe Additional DNA Tests
In addition to the health reports, you also get an analysis of about twenty inheritable physical traits. Included is data on your propensity to enjoy caffeinated beverages, whether or not you can taste certain bitter flavors, and how likely you are to have curly or straight hair compared to others who share genes with you.
The main feature of interest to most people taking this kind of test is the insight into personal ethnic identity. The 23andMe test gives you a break-down of your DNA compared to thirty one population groups around the world. Viewable by map or list, the percentage of genes from each group is quickly viewable.
The ancestry part of the results also covers maternal haplogroup. This is the part of each person’s DNA which is inherited only from the mother. Also called mitochondrial DNA, this genetic information does not change from one generation to the next, so it provides deep insight into the history of a person’s maternal heritage going back tens of thousands of years. Men who take the 23andMe test also get a report on the Y chromosome passed on from their father. This gives a view into the deep past of the paternal line, but only men taking the test receive this information.
As an add-on feature, customers can opt-in for connecting to a forum of other 23andMe customers who share DNA and may be related. Those who opt-in can post messages, ask questions, and make personal connections with others who share their genes. The company also offers an opt-in feature for those who want their genetic information to be available for scientific research projects. There is no extra charge for either opt-in feature, and you can change your mind at any time.
Another ancestry report included is an analysis of the customer’s Neanderthal genes. A report is generated showing how many of the customer’s genes overlap with the approximately 1,400 Neanderthal genes identified in human DNA.
Some of the genetic information generated by these reports is also available in an easily searchable raw data browser. This allows the customer to locate and look at individual genes and see which allele combination they have at a given SNP site.
The results from 23andMe’s genetic test are available about six weeks after sending in the saliva sample. All registration and report viewing is done online, and the collection kit is mailed directly to the customer’s home in a return-postage-paid box.
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