23andMe Unboxing

When the website 23andMe launched their genome sequencing service before Thanksgiving, I immediately signed up. Their service, as I understand it, looks at approximately 600,000 SNPs. In English, it looks for mutations over 600,000 points on a person’s DNA. It’s not sequencing an entire genome, but it provides a good ‘sampling’. This information can be used to determine such things as ancestry and whether a person is predisposed to some genetic-based diseases. The service costs $1000 and only requires a sample of saliva.

I ordered the kit on a Sunday, and it arrived on Wednesday, November 21st.

Opening it up, you see this: IMG_0113
The left side in more detail: IMG_0114
The right side in more detail: IMG_0115

You spit in the tube. The process took me about 5 minutes (it’s a lot of saliva!). Then you screw on the big cap, which releases a fluid into the tube. Then you unscrew the big cap and screw on the small cap, which seals the tube. Shake the tube up a bit and then put the tube into the enclosed FedEx envelope and send it off. 23andMe says the sequencing process takes 4 to 6 weeks, which means for me that I should have my results back somewhere between December 19th and the end of the year.

It will be interesting to see how useful this is. I’m fascinated with genetics, and when whole genome sequencing becomes affordable, I’ll definitely do that. The technology is moving quickly.

Update: Looks like Mike over at Techcrunch is doing the same thing.