23andMe review: getting a personal DNA report

* This post contains several updates on the current status of 23andMe project and my story as a customer, from making an order in September to receiving the report on February. Read on to get the whole story!

First, there’s a little intro to the whole thing. Have you heard of 23andMe (23andme.com)? Feel free to skip further if you have.

23andme.com is a privately held personal genomics and biotechnology company based in Mountain View, California that provides rapid genetic testing. The company is named for the 23 pairs of chromosomes in a normal human cell. The company provides health and ancestry DNA service that delivers you medical information based on a DNA sample that you send to the lab.

For those who are curious how the whole thing works, below I’ve summed up the info from the official website. Personally, I think this project is amazing, and I’ve talked a lot about different aspects of this whole phenomena of DNA testing in the last couple of weeks. Also, I’ve ordered the testing as soon as I heard about it, and once its completed I will share my experience in another article.

23andMe – Logo

How it works

First you order a DNA kit, and it arrives with detailed instructions on how to provide your DNA sample. Once completed, you send the kit back in the pre-paid packaging provided. Also, you register the bar code number, so the lab can process your results. When your sample arrives at the lab, you receive an email confirmation. Once you have been notified your reports are ready, you sign in and your health and ancestry reports will be displayed on your personal homepage.

Medical Report

Using your DNA information, the lab will report on over 240+ health conditions and traits and provide specific health recommendations for you, as well as your genetic health risks. Change what you can, manage what you can’t. You can also find out if your children are at risk for inherited conditions, so you can plan for the health of your family.

Ancestry Information

The service gives you an opportunity to find out what percent of your DNA comes from populations around the world, ranging from East Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, Europe, and more. You’ll likely discover dozens or even hundreds of people who share DNA and ancestors. The matches you’ll get can range from close family to distant cousins. Break European ancestry down into distinct regions such as the British Isles, Scandinavia, Italy and Ashkenazi Jewish. People with mixed ancestry, African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans will also get a detailed breakdown. If you already use a family tree service, you can easily import your tree.

The lab traces everyone’s maternal ancestry by using a small piece of DNA passed down from mother to child. Males can also uncover their direct paternal ancestry through the Y chromosome that’s passed down from father to son, both men and women receive information about both sides of their family from the 22 other chromosomes.

Follow me on twitter to stay tuned with to whole process!

UPD1: Got my 23andMe box! Now I’m going to find a way to send it back. Post office and delivery companies in my country don’t accept biotech related personal shipments, so I have to send it from somewhere else. Though, I was aware of that from the very beginning, so I’m optimistic that the opportunity will present itself soon enough. Stay tuned for the updates.

23andMe box

On November 25, 2013 FDA orders genetic testing company 23andMe to halt sales, saying the Google-backed startup has failed to prove the validity of its product. 23andMe states that customers who purchased kits before November 22, 2013 will still receive health-related results, offers refund policy and continues the service for ancestry-related testing only. I’m still too curious about the whole thing to request a refund, so I just need to ship it asap.

Luckily my husband is going to France for a couple of days in December, so he might be able to send the container back to the US.

The kit has been successfully sent in the end of December from France. As an advice to everyone who is based in a country that doesn’t allow mailing bio-materials, I wouldn’t recommend cheating the post office. Just wait for an opportunity to send it from abroad or ask your friends to do so. It takes just a few minutes and you won’t be breaking the rules.

Laboratory received my kit on January 10th. Since I purchased it before the FDA issues, I should still receive a health report.

Finally! February 23rd:
Your first set of 23andMe reports are now available in your online account.
I won’t review the report itself in this post, but I have to say that I’m very satisfied with the information provided. Many features have been stated correctly by the lab (such as eye color, hair type etc.) and all the health-related information seems to be in accordance with what I know from my family medical history. Once again, 23andme.com is doing a great job, and it’s definitely a step forward in what’s gonna be medical care in the future.

UPD7: For those who didn’t get to order 23andMe box before the whole FDA thing — health reports are still avaliable in the UK store.

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