Golden day for 23andMe: Time’s 2008 Invention of the Year

This is a golden day for 23andMe despite all crisis worries:

Mountain View, CA (PRWEB) October 30, 2008 — TIME Magazine announced today that the Personal Genome Service™ from 23andMe, Inc. has been named 2008′s Invention of the Year. 23andMe was chosen as the year’s most significant invention for its exceptional work in making personal genomics accessible and affordable.

From the industrial point of view what are the components of success here besides the obviously good team:

- mission: big, Google-sized mission: revolution of health care by personal genetic information as the source of upcoming personalized medicine

- biotechnology: based on the highest available technology platforms in microarrays (Illumina) (watch out, next gen sequencing is in the corner!)

- capital investment and network effect: I can only repeat myself:  23andMe is probably the most well-connected and backed startup in the history of Silicon Valley.(photo: happy 23andMe founders and early customers)

- information technology the cool and user-friendly factor of the browser based service is really amazing (in the past couple of weeks I demonstrated it to a bunch of people and even those were able to catch the essence of the available information who are older, web-unsavvy)

- simplicity of service: you just spit 2ml into a tube and FedEx it

- most aggressive marketing strategy based largely on the network effect among the power elite of the USA (and consequently, the world)

From the consumer point of view let me tell you 1 personal example of the lifestyle effect of the service: Continue reading

My body is my thesis: The 2009 AAAS Science Dance Contest

The 2009 AAAS Science Dance Contest is for hidden artists disguised as scientists, nerds and shameless self promoters who are tempted to dance their PhDs, upload it to YouTube and enjoy microcelebrity. A real thesis live, non-profit but for fun and a one and only chance to make a fool out of you.

This is a perfect match for John Bohannon, The Gonzo Scientist (whom I introduced you back in 2007) who is an organizer, chronicler and participator of the contest and I must say I liked the rather-theatrical-performance-than-simple-dance version of his thesis, entitled The role of the WSS operon in the adaptive evolution of experimental populations of Pseudomonas flurescens SBW25 (here).

But what to think of the performance of a professor with a thesis title: “Analysis of thymic nurse cells in the chicken”? Artist, nerd, self promoter, did I miss something?

Here are the details of how to enter the contest and don’t miss to read about the prizes too (guests at the 2009 AAAS Annual Meeting in Chicago):

The contest is open to anyone who has (or is pursuing) a Ph.D. in any scientific field, Continue reading

23andMe on Twitter & now offering services in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Israel

Finally 23andMe, my first personal genetics service provider, is on Twitter which could mean that from now on first-hand company information will flow even more continuously compared to what the regularly/daily updated eminent corporate blog can offer. Microblogging is always quicker blogging! Based on the first 4 tweets (on the photo) the guys will not just simply link to the posts but communicate with other Twitterers and give informal & brand new info.

Mountain View – Budapest: 20 days to get my 23andMe profile!

I ordered my first commercial genetic profile from 23andMe on the 9th of September online, FedExed my 2 ml saliva from Budapest to 23andMe, Mountain View on the 12th of September. I got the results today. That said within 3 weeks since the birth of the idea I purchased more than 500 000 SNPs of mine analyzed, evaluated and ready to be browsed. With this step I finally and quickly entered into the age of personalized genetics no matter how embryonic it is.

After a superficial first scan of my results I can say that it is a really interesting thing that instantly pushes me towards accumulating more knowledge on the personalized genetics field concerning specific traits, stats, risks and studies.

Here is a first look on what my Y chromosome SNPs are saying on my paternal haplogroup:

I learned for instance that based only on my genotype and not any environmental factors involved I have a lower than average risk Continue reading

Even ugly handwriting can fit the informal nature of SciFoo

I had problems with my handwriting since elementary schools, or at least my teachers had continuous problems with it. Even during my university years I was asked sometimes to read out loud my essays, papers to them otherwise risking bad grades. Maybe it’s because I am a hidden right-handed using my left hand for writing or maybe I am just too impatient over the slow pace of handwriting (needless to say computers mostly solved this problem).

On this George Dyson photo here you can see the SciFoo schedule in progress and I think you can easily pick the one with the ugliest handwriting on Aging and Life Extension:

Superstruct launches with Superthreats, a forecasting game for the masses!

If you are particularly fascinated by the future and enjoy playing games the following is something you should be involved and interested in. Superstruct, the world’s first massively multiplayer forecasting game started today with Superthreat scenarios by 2019. Game founder Jane McGonigal writes in a message sent to the members of Facebook Group the dedicated to the game:

Watch the news from the future, and find out exactly what dangers and challenges we face with Quarantine, Ravenous, Power Struggle, Outlaw Planet and Generation Exile.

Here is the Outlaw Planet video for instance:

The game is part of The Ten-Year Forecast Program of The Institute for the Future. You can find details in the Superstruct FAQ and as Jessica Hemerly summarizes it:

With Superstruct IFTF introduces a revolutionary new forecasting tool: Massively Multiplayer Forecasting Games (MMFGs). MMFGs are collaborative, open source simulations of a possible future. Each MMFG focuses on a unique set of “future parameters,” which we cull from IFTF’s forecast research. These parameters define a future scenario: a specific combination of transformative events, technologies, discoveries and social phenomenon that are likely to develop in the next 10 to 25 years. We then open up the future to the public, so that players can document their personal reactions to the scenario.

Back in February I participated in a workshop held at Palo Alto where we actually played a Superstruct like game from within the IFTF’s X2 site. Continue reading

Sergey Brin, Gly2019Ser & a real chance against Parkinson disease/aging!

It was already known that amongst the Google top people Sergey Brin is the one who is most interested in pushing biotechnology and the biomedical sciences: in his Stanford years he was interested in biology courses according to The Google Story, he married Anne Wojcicki (who graduted from biology at Yale), Google invested $4.4 million into 23andMe the pioneering personal genomics company co-founded by Anne, then Google invested into 23andMe competitor Navigenics too.

Now Sergey Brin added another, serious and personal reason to think that he is really, personally committed to the quick progress in the biomedical sciences: in his new blog – already a bit of an Internet history – called Too he disclosed that using the 23andMe personal genetics service he figured out something worrying about his and his family’s risk of Parkinson disease (his mother and her aunt are being already diagnosed with PD):

“I learned something very important to me — I carry the G2019S mutation and when my mother checked her account, she saw she carries it too.
The exact implications of this are not entirely clear. Early studies tend to have small samples with various selection biases. Nonetheless it is clear that I have a markedly higher chance of developing Parkinson’s in my lifetime than the average person. In fact, it is somewhere between 20% to 80% depending on the study and how you measure.

The G2019S mutation is actually the rs34637584 SNP and lies in the gene LRRK2 encoding leucine-rich repeat kinase on chromosome 12. The mutation affects the first codon of the gene and is a guanine (G)-to- adenine (A) substitution resulting known as a missense and  leads to a glycine – serine (hence the name) amino acid conversion in the protein product. Here is how the SNP position looks in the 23andMe browser using the sample family, the Mendels.



23andMe’s amazingly good corporate blog The Spittoon cited a recent article about the chances: Continue reading