Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Two Companies Now Offering Personal Gene Sequencing

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the sequencing-for-fun-and-profit dept.

Biotech 146

corded writes "Yesterday, deCODE genetics announced the launch of their $985 personal genotyping product, deCODEme (video), beating their competitors to market. Perhaps not coincidentally, 23andMe's website is suddenly much more informative today, and the New York Times features a preview of 23andMe's $999 offering. deCODEme and 23andMe will scan about a million and 600,000 sites across the genome, respectively and assess your risk for common diseases, along with providing information about ancestry, physical traits, and the ability to compare genes with friends and family."

cancel ×

146 comments

I tried it... turns out, I'm a turd burglar! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21392051)

A few years ago, while browsing around the library downtown, I
had to take a piss. As I entered the john a big beautiful all-American
football hero type, about twenty-five, came out of one of the booths.
I stood at the urinal looking at him out of the corner of my eye as he
washed his hands. He didn't once look at me. He was "straight" and
married - and in any case I was sure I wouldn't have a chance with
him.

As soon as he left I darted into the booth he'd vacated,
hoping there might be a lingering smell of shit and even a seat still
warm from his sturdy young ass. I found not only the smell but the
shit itself. He'd forgotten to flush. And what a treasure he had left
behind. Three or four beautiful specimens floated in the bowl. It
apparently had been a fairly dry, constipated shit, for all were fat,
stiff, and ruggedly textured. The real prize was a great feast of turd
- a nine inch gastrointestinal triumph as thick as a man's wrist.

I knelt before the bowl, inhaling the rich brown fragrance and
wondered if I should obey the impulse building up inside me. I'd
always been a heavy rimmer and had lapped up more than one little
clump of shit, but that had been just an inevitable part of eating ass
and not an end in itself. Of course I'd had jerk-off fantasies of
devouring great loads of it (what rimmer hasn't), but I had never done
it. Now, here I was, confronted with the most beautiful five-pound
turd I'd ever feasted my eyes on, a sausage fit to star in any fantasy
and one I knew to have been hatched from the asshole of the world's
handsomest young stud.

Why not? I plucked it from the bowl, holding it with both
hands to keep it from breaking. I lifted it to my nose. It smelled
like rich, ripe limburger (horrid, but thrilling), yet had the
consistency of cheddar. What is cheese anyway but milk turning to shit
without the benefit of a digestive tract?

I gave it a lick and found that it tasted better then it
smelled. I've found since then that shit nearly almost does.

I hesitated no longer. I shoved the fucking thing as far into
my mouth as I could get it and sucked on it like a big brown cock,
beating my meat like a madman. I wanted to completely engulf it and
bit off a large chunk, flooding my mouth with the intense, bittersweet
flavor. To my delight I found that while the water in the bowl had
chilled the outside of the turd, it was still warm inside. As I chewed
I discovered that it was filled with hard little bits of something I
soon identified as peanuts. He hadn't chewed them carefully and they'd
passed through his body virtually unchanged. I ate it greedily,
sending lump after peanutty lump sliding scratchily down my throat. My
only regret was the donor of this feast wasn't there to wash it down
with his piss.

I soon reached a terrific climax. I caught my cum in the
cupped palm of my hand and drank it down. Believe me, there is no more
delightful combination of flavors than the hot sweetness of cum with
the rich bitterness of shit.

Afterwards I was sorry that I hadn't made it last longer. But
then I realized that I still had a lot of fun in store for me. There
was still a clutch of virile turds left in the bowl. I tenderly fished
them out, rolled them into my handkerchief, and stashed them in my
briefcase. In the week to come I found all kinds of ways to eat the
shit without bolting it right down. Once eaten it's gone forever
unless you want to filch it third hand out of your own asshole. Not an
unreasonable recourse in moments of desperation or simple boredom.

I stored the turds in the refrigerator when I was not using
them but within a week they were all gone. The last one I held in my
mouth without chewing, letting it slowly dissolve. I had liquid shit
trickling down my throat for nearly four hours. I must have had six
orgasms in the process.

I often think of that lovely young guy dropping solid gold out
of his sweet, pink asshole every day, never knowing what joy it could,
and at least once did, bring to a grateful shiteater.

Sperm!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21392069)

They want my sperm!

Weird comment but... (2, Funny)

Prysorra (1040518) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392265)

That's a possibility. It's only a matter of time before sperm banks make the most of their .... supply.

Gene Patents (1)

ExploHD (888637) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392073)

My only question is: will some company will come after this one with a portfolio of gene pantents and licensing terms?

Re:Gene Patents (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392221)

Fortunately, the science behind this was almost all grant-funded research published in academic journals, rather than corporate R&D kept under lock and key as trade secrets or described in overbroad patents which prevent anyone from using the knowledge without paying an absurdly high price. The genomic revolution, of which this story is a very small part, is an object lesson in the usefulness of government-funded research and academic publication.

Re:Gene Patents (2, Informative)

foobsr (693224) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392417)

"A new study shows that 20 percent of human genes have been patented in the United States, primarily by private firms and universities."
as of 2005 [nationalgeographic.com]

Ohne Worte (spechless, though not quite)

CC.

Re:Gene Patents (2, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392481)

Very true, which IMO is an object lesson in why we shouldn't allow gene patents. But that's beside the point. The type of SNP mapping these companies are offering is all based on work that's well in the public domain.

Re:Gene Patents (1)

Veramocor (262800) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392955)

But at least they were patented now when there really isn't too much we can do with each individual gene. In 20 years the patents gone and can never be patented again (hopefully). By the science may have advanced enough to utilize the knowledge of each individual gene.

Re:Gene Patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21394139)

True, but wouldn't it be ridiculously easy to show prior art on this one?

sweet (1)

Noishe (829350) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392091)

I don't know about you guys, but I think that's f'in awesomely cool!

Double that (1)

Besna (1175279) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392291)

Don't let the luddites and paranoid types get you down! This rocks. Great winter solstice gift, too!

Third that (2, Interesting)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 6 years ago | (#21393047)

I do too think it's cool, and the search for genes that might pose a health risk sounds like something great for public health. I don't know what it would implicate, but I suppose it might tell you how likely you are to have a certain type of cancer/cardiovascular disease/alzheimer and allow you to stay on the look-out for what you're the most likely to have.

Actually I hope one day (within the next 20 years) gene sequencing for health purposes will be made systematically for health purposes and stored in a super-high security database that other branches of the government/law enforcement couldn't get to, except of course via a special warrant emitted by a judge. If you think about it, it's not that unfeasible, even now. If there are about 4 million new-borns every year in the USA, and that performing sequencing really costs $1000 (but we can safely assume it actually costs less), then it would cost $4 billion a year, which makes it almost affordable (although probably not worth it, and surely not going to happen anytime soon).

Re:Third that (2, Insightful)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 6 years ago | (#21393503)

Actually I hope one day (within the next 20 years) gene sequencing for health purposes will be made systematically for health purposes and stored in a super-high security database that other branches of the government/law enforcement couldn't get to, except of course via a special warrant emitted by a judge.

No thank you. Having everybody's genome in a database someplace is a monumentally BAD idea. What's to stop some unscrupulous person deciding they don't like, for instance, people with blonde hair and brown eyes? They can dig through the genome records to find what gene sequences selects for both of these traits, then cobble together a virus that targets these sequences. Impossible? Now, mebbe, but I wouldn't hold my breath that it'll be impossible forever.

Besides, our government gets all kind of info without a warrant these days. Want to give them more? Not me, unless it'll bury them in paperwork til they can't do anything else but the paperwork...

I don't know what it would implicate, but I suppose it might tell you how likely you are to have a certain type of cancer/cardiovascular disease/alzheimer and allow you to stay on the look-out for what you're the most likely to have.

And let's look at health insurance, since you brought it up. Give them this information, and they can start dropping coverage on people at risk. People like me. Last place I worked decided to change coverage to get a 'better rate'. First thing the salesman asked when he came in was, "Who here is diabetic?" Three hands went up, mine being one of them. Second question was, "Anybody here have heart problems?" I raised my hand. He then said, "Sorry, we can't cover diabetics or people with heart problems." And since my coverage dropped with the old company when they switched over, I became uninsurable because the old insurance company wasn't going to carry me unless my premiums went from 200/month to 1500/month. And that's just for me.

And besides, private databases are under no obligation to demand to see a warrant. They can be shared for 'legitimate business reasons'. How much you wanna bet that these databases won't be sold to insurance companies, security companies, credit card companies, anybody with a vested interest in seeing that they keep somebody alive to get money out of them? Never saw a privacy agreement that didn't state that conditions of use are subject to change without notice?

Re:Third that (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 6 years ago | (#21393745)

Duh. I was just reading about paraphilias [wikipedia.org] and here's one that should have made it to the list : "Fudophilia : sexual arousal from hearing or creating FUD".

Seriously, it's like you guys really love FUD, I mean look at what you just said, it's like you didn't even think for a second about what could be done to prevent the abuses you're talking about, you're just going "OMG this is what's gonna happen if we do that" as if there was no way to prevent that. You just start imagining scenarios in which, in our case, data is as unprotected as possible and that the most evil person/group of persons you can imagine tries to exploit it, and then far-fetching the whole thing to apply it to something that would never happen in the first place. And not even for a second do you try to think up ways to prevent such abuses.

Your points are so ridiculous yet you just do see it, just try to apply that type of thinking to storing credit card numbers, entire bank accounts and social security numbers on computer systems and you'll see you'd get even better FUD out of it, the only problem being you'd know none of those FUDdy things happened.

Really though, listen to yourself, fudophilia makes your sound like a whiny drama queen.

Re:Third that (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 6 years ago | (#21393963)

Seriously, it's like you guys really love FUD, I mean look at what you just said, it's like you didn't even think for a second about what could be done to prevent the abuses you're talking about, you're just going "OMG this is what's gonna happen if we do that" as if there was no way to prevent that. You just start imagining scenarios in which, in our case, data is as unprotected as possible and that the most evil person/group of persons you can imagine tries to exploit it, and then far-fetching the whole thing to apply it to something that would never happen in the first place. And not even for a second do you try to think up ways to prevent such abuses.

Never dealt with an insurance company beyond paying the premiums, eh? Or the government beyond picking up your check, eh? Look at what you're saying, "Nothing to worry about, our government would never lie, our corporations are honest." When you decide to put down your Oreos, turn off your MTV, and come outta Mom's basement to the Real World, let me know.

Your points are so ridiculous yet you just do see it, just try to apply that type of thinking to storing credit card numbers, entire bank accounts and social security numbers on computer systems and you'll see you'd get even better FUD out of it, the only problem being you'd know none of those FUDdy things happened.

I don't have any credit cards. I don't believe in 28% interest on a credit card and taking 40 years to pay them off. Nothing to steal there. If I want to borrow money, I'll talk with my bank and/or my credit union. If I absolutely positively need plastic, I use a prepaid debit card for 50 bucks a year. Go ahead and steal the number for it if you can, I don't keep much on it unless I need to get something with it and cash is inconvenient.

And you'd be surprised at what I could find out about you from your social security number. I used to do a lotta skip tracing. SSNs and credit reports are REAL handy for tracking somebody down so you can sue 'em. Totally legal for the job I was doing, Totally legal for the search engine we paid for to offer them to us for the use we had for them.

How do you know? (1)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 6 years ago | (#21393031)

Suppose they just make some shit up and tell you it's Your genome. How will you know? With only two companies, even if you were to have it done by another company you would not know which version was right if either. I suppose you could submit the same thing twice to one company under different fake names but they could also be devious too. Just sample your genome for a signature region (e.g. a restriction digest) and they essentially have a hash code for recognizing you if you try to sneak a second one in. SO they give you back the same thing they gave you the first time.

I think I speak for everybody when I say... (0, Redundant)

Donniedarkness (895066) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392139)

$1k?!

Torrent?

For less... (3, Informative)

_PimpDaddy7_ (415866) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392605)

If you are interested in just your ancestry part check out National Geographic's Genographic project:

https://www3.nationalgeographic.com/genographic/index.html [nationalgeographic.com]

Less money and pretty interesting. I did it myself and was pleased with the results. Very interesting indeed! :)

Re:For less... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21392651)

Any chance you can tell us the results? I'm interested in the type of information they give you back.

ot: 23andMe (1)

atamyrat (980611) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392149)

Sergey Brin is going to marry Anne, co-foundeer of 23andMe. Today read about it somewhere, but forgot where the article was from..

Already married (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21392161)

I think

Re:ot: 23andMe (1)

evil agent (918566) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392253)

Isn't it obvious what Google is up to now?

Gene-based ads determined by the skin flake analyzer on their upcoming gPhone.

One step furhter (1)

kyc (984418) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392167)


Amazing news! One step further will be exacting the analysis and actually telling the person about how his ancestors looked like, what color his children's eyes are gonna be, and whether he will die due to pancreatic cancer and etc =)

Why don't we all support the research in biology (to create intelligent machines) and we are starting from Silicon and basically from nothing.

While reading this, it occured to me that making a living organism more intelligent can be an alternative way to silicon-based AI, what's your opinion?

Re:One step furhter (2, Interesting)

Emetophobe (878584) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392333)

While reading this, it occured to me that making a living organism more intelligent can be an alternative way to silicon-based AI, what's your opinion?

The movie Gattaca comes to mind.

Re:One step furhter (1)

Tyger (126248) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392551)

That was my first thought too. Like the sleezy looking place where you take a DNA sample of your potential partner and they give you a report on them.

Re:One step furhter (1)

chfriley (160627) | more than 6 years ago | (#21394111)

If you are concerned about pancreatic cancer there are a number of genetic tests already available. Ditto pancreatitis. You should discuss with your Dr.

(and if you know someone with pancreatic cancer, PanCan (http://www.pancan.org/ is a helpful organization).

Not yet (5, Insightful)

Faux_Pseudo (141152) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392183)

I wouldn't do this until some law is passed saying that if a test shows I am prone to some genetic condition that the insurance companies can't refuse me service because it is a pre-existing condition. Ignorance is financial bliss.

Re:Not yet (1)

MagicM (85041) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392269)

Aren't all genetic diseases by definition pre-existing conditions?

Re:Not yet (3, Insightful)

CrazedWalrus (901897) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392359)

No, they're possible conditions. You can carry genes that increase your likelihood of having a disease, but not actually express them to the extent that you actually have a problem (or at all). For example, some gene is found to increase your chances of high cholesterol and therefore heart disease. You still may never have heart disease, and may not even actually have high cholesterol.

In this example, a simple blood test can confirm the high cholesterol condition either way, and is a much more fair way of determining the insurance company's risk.

In addition, some diseases wouldn't set in from childhood. In this case, a risk factor is pre-existing, but the disease itself is not.

What this tells you is what to watch out for, not what you have.

Re:Not yet (1, Interesting)

francisstp (1137345) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392299)

Why would you want such a law passed? More information means more efficient market processes.

People with lower risk pay lower premiums, people with higher risk pay higher premiums.

This is what the insurance business is all about.

Insurance companies now have to charge high premiums because they're having a hard time assessing the individual risk levels. When more tools are available to help measure this risk, they'll be able to charge the right premiums, which will be on average lower than what they are now.

Re:Not yet (1)

Emetophobe (878584) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392365)

You're talking about discrimination based on someones genes. I don't know anyone who would want what you are proposing (other than the insurance companies).

Re:Not yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21392499)

Your bank to find out if you die before your mortgage is paid.
Your employer to estimate your number of sick days.
And the list goes on.

The insurance business.... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21392449)

Why would you want such a law passed? More information means more efficient market processes.

People with lower risk pay lower premiums, people with higher risk pay higher premiums.

This is what the insurance business is all about.

Insurance companies now have to charge high premiums because they're having a hard time assessing the individual risk levels. When more tools are available to help measure this risk, they'll be able to charge the right premiums, which will be on average lower than what they are now.
In other words they will exhaustively test every customer, seize upon every little bitty DNA defect they can find, assess it as a potential risk and jack up the premiums? Perhaps I am being paranoid here but I put the insurance industry right beside lawyers and estate agents on my list of blood sucking parasites that I mistrust on principle. Which puts them just a couple of pegs above 419ers, Enron executives, the Bush administration stooges who cooked up the Iraqi WMD evidence and generally all other other low life scam artists.

Re:Not yet (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21392465)

As other posters have pointed out, genetic tests do not test risk factors. Just because you have genes that MIGHT increase your risk, doesn't mean you have any risk. The normal tests are better, because they actually test if you have a condition, not your likelihood of ever developing the condition.

If you give them access to genetic information that they could use to increase your payments, more then likely that is exactly what they will do. No ones genes are perfect, not after thousands of years of mixing and matching, everyone will have genes that might suggest they will develop certain conditions, which means your suggestion that they will lower premiums of certain people is ludicrous.

Genes do not tell you what conditions a person shall ever have, such information will merely become another thing held against people.

Re:Not yet (1)

francisstp (1137345) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392643)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Risk [wikipedia.org]

Risk is a concept that denotes a potential negative impact to an asset or some characteristic of value that may arise from some present process or future event. (my emphasis)

Something that might increase risk is itself risk, by definition.

Re:Not yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21392775)

I see you have completely missed the point of my post. Yes, there is a potential risk increase (but no one can say by how much, the knowledge in this area is still very crude and inaccurate), but my point was that increase would only apply to everyone, and only be used as a reason to increase insurance rates.

Re:Not yet (1)

francisstp (1137345) | more than 6 years ago | (#21393207)

Hmm, no. Do you think that insurance companies now, as they don't have enough info to assess your risk level, simply say : "Oh well, too bad. We'll just charge him the same premiums we would if we knew he was low-risk."?

The total premiums would probably go down a little, but the distribution would be much more fair and efficient.

Re:Not yet (2, Insightful)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 6 years ago | (#21393585)

Hmm, no. Do you think that insurance companies now, as they don't have enough info to assess your risk level, simply say : "Oh well, too bad. We'll just charge him the same premiums we would if we knew he was low-risk."?

They have these guys working for them called actuaries. They do for insurance companies what bookies do for betting - they analyse risk and compute odds. It's a hitherto unknown science called 'statistics'. And they're good at it. Why do you think car insurance premiums are 5 times the 'going rate' for males between 16 and 25? Because statistically, the risk is MUCH greater of an accident in that age bracket.

The total premiums would probably go down a little, but the distribution would be much more fair and efficient.

Um, no. The insurance company's profits will go up, the premiums will remain the same. Hey, you're used to the rate now, right? By getting more info on you, they can more accurately gauge the risk you'll be that they (god forbid) actually have to pay a claim, and if your risk goes beyond a certain threshhold, they'll drop you like a hot rock. Think I'm kidding? File claims on 3 uninsured idiots backing into your car in a parking lot within a year and see how fast your premiums go up after the 2nd, and how fast they cancel you after the 3rd. Insurance companies are for-profit entities. They're in business to make money, not to pay claims. If they can figure out a way to pay zero claims, they'll do it.

Re:Not yet (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21392625)

It's fairly simple: Because people now use health insurance as a form of pseudo-socialized medicine. There are a number of health conditions whose treatment (especially cancer) is so expensive that most people cannot afford it. This fear drives people to pay into the system, and the healthy people effectively subsidize the bills of the sick. Increased knowledge of genetic risk factors will lower some people's insurance, but at the cost of rendering health care unaffordable to the unlucky (or careless, in the case of controllable risks) few.

Faced with option of increased knowledge of their health risks and maybe lower premiums vs. ignorance but a greater probability of treatment, many people choose ignorance and treatment. This is a sign of how screwed up the system is. The "right thing" has become undesirable...

Re:Not yet (1)

francisstp (1137345) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392823)

Exactly. Prisoner's dilemma in action.

Re:Not yet (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#21393669)

Flamebait? Sheesh, that was a valid point, although it could have been "nicer".

The function of insurance, as such, is to spread a risk across a pool, where you don't know who will get what, except in a probabilistic sense.

We all surely feel for those who are stuck with a genetic disease they had no control over, but if we collectively value health coverage for these diseases, we should be willing to pay for it collectively, NOT mandate that all insurance companies act as hybrid insurer-charities, which would just force them to try to avoid the uninsurable diseases in more insidious ways. That means: having the government pay for treatment of these diseases, rather than making insurance companies our whipping boys.

On a side note, this concern for equality many express here is not very general. Maleness is genetic, but I don't see any outrage over insurers (car, life, etc.) charging males more. Why is that?

Oh, right...

Re:Not yet (1)

The Analog Kid (565327) | more than 6 years ago | (#21393821)

People with lower risk pay lower premiums, people with higher risk pay higher premiums.

I'm sure if you got your genes sequenced and found out your at a high risked for high cholesterol, liver cancer, and Alzheimer's you'd be signing a different tune when you got your bill from the insurance company.

Re:Not yet (3, Insightful)

aldheorte (162967) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392363)

Can anyone give me an good argument as to why:

1. Insurance companies should not deny people coverage based on a genetic assessment.
2. Insurance companies should not charge a different premium based on genetic assessment.

That is not based on political correctness? Note that, if you get life insurance, they already take blood and urine tests prior to determining your premium.

Re:Not yet (4, Insightful)

Emetophobe (878584) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392809)

My only argument is Genetic discrimination [wikipedia.org] . Also, a lot more information can be found here [genome.gov] .

No one gets to choose their genetic makeup, sex or race when they are born, so why discriminate people based on something which is out of their control?

Take a look at the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2007 [genome.gov] :

The Genetic Nondiscrimination Act of 2007 (GINA) was passed in the U.S. House of Representatives, by a vote of 420-3. The act will protect individuals against discrimination based on their genetic information when it comes to health insurance and employment. These protections are intended to encourage Americans to take advantage of genetic testing as part of their medical care.

Re:Not yet (1)

TheCrayfish (73892) | more than 6 years ago | (#21393189)

Insurance companies, as private enterprises, should have the right to charge whatever they want to whomever they want, as long as a free and open market exists (with no monopoly insurance companies, etc.)

Insurance companies already charge different rates to drivers of different ages, for example, even though this amounts to "discrimination" based on something the customer cannot control (i.e., the year in which s/he was born.) They do this because statistically, younger drivers represent a higher risk to insure than older drivers.

Again, as private enterprises, they should have the right to use any information at their disposal to assess risk and charge a premium based on that risk.

Re:Not yet (3, Insightful)

AxelBoldt (1490) | more than 6 years ago | (#21394221)

Insurance companies, as private enterprises, should have the right to charge whatever they want to whomever they want,

They do not now have that right, nor should they have that right in the future. Just because they are private enterprises does not mean that they should be exempt of regulation; in fact, the whole point of regulation is to make the profit motive of private enterprises work in parallel with the public interest.

It's in the public interest that people have access to affordable health insurance, in particular if their genes show that they may need it in the future. If insurers were allowed to cherry-pick, then ultimately the taxpayers would have to pay for the treatment of these people, unless you want to let them rot homelessly in the streets.

Re:Not yet (3, Insightful)

evanbd (210358) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392843)

Insurance companies should charge the correct amount, given all knowledge of risk factors -- insurance should be spreading risk among your insurance pool, not about getting free medical care. The problem is that this results in morally repugnant things like denying people care for unlikely conditions they're predisposed to but had no control over.

In an ideal world, this would be an argument for socialized medicine, or at least goverment-run health insurance for such factors. At a societal level, a certain fraction of people will have genetic anomalies, and at a societal level we shouldn't discriminate against them. It's no different from a car accident -- even if you're a good, careful driver, you roll the dice every time you get behind the wheel. The difference is that the dice get rolled (at least in part) long before the healthcare bills start to appear. But, that doesn't make it any less of a "risk" -- it just means that people can attempt to opt out of paying their share after they've checked the dice roll.

The ideal solution would be to cover everyone based on a pool composed of everyone -- aka mandatory government funded insurance (or socialized healthcare, depending on how you want to look at it).

(And to wander further afield -- there are lots of issues with our current healthcare system. I'm skeptical that socialized healthcare is the answer, and I don't know that implementing government insurance for genetic conditions would actually improve anything. At the same time, I find it ethically wrong to allow people to use genetic results they know about in decisions about what healthcare coverage to buy, but not allow the providers to use the same information in decisions about what to charge. It's a difficult and many-faceted problem, and I won't pretend to have even some of the answers.)

Re:Not yet (1)

francisstp (1137345) | more than 6 years ago | (#21393705)

"The ideal solution would be to cover everyone based on a pool composed of everyone -- aka mandatory government funded insurance (or socialized healthcare, depending on how you want to look at it)"


The problem with this is that the premiums are usually not enough to cover all payouts if premiums are not reflecting the correct level of risk. Managers of such systems will prefer undercharging to overcharging for political reasons. Either way, without market forces there are no price signals guiding these managers.

Such funds thus require tax money to be diverted from other sources (e.g. transportation is usually a preferred target).

Re:Not yet (1)

daeg (828071) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392855)

This is a strong argument for a national healthcare system that does not discriminate. Allow, and perhaps subsidize, people to take these detailed genetic tests to alert them to possible predisposition to things. Many genetic conditions can be combated with diet, exercise, or other preventative things (high cholesterol comes to mind as a good example). It can also give doctors a valuable clue to look in a unified medical chart and see that you have a specific gene that can lead to an exotic condition, or that there is really nothing they can do for a condition.

Many family histories are grossly incomplete. Remember that not even 100 years ago, many minor illnesses were considered types of "madness". Not exactly a lot for the doctor to go off of.

If you permit these tests with private health care, everyone loses. Everyone will have some weakness to SOMETHING. Don't forget that insurance is linked to work, and health data is private. Try explaining to your company why your premium is $600 higher than a co-worker's without explaining your family's private medical history and pre-disposition to certain pricey conditions.

Re:Not yet (1)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392899)

1. Insurance companies should not deny people coverage based on a genetic assessment.
2. Insurance companies should not charge a different premium based on genetic assessment.

In the US, health care is largely based on insurance, as opposed to much of Western Europe where it is seen as a basic right. Therefore, allowing different charging or even exclusion as in your number 1 scenario, would deny or impact people's access to health care in the USA to a dramatic level. This would be bad for a number of reasons, but the greatest of which is the sheer injustice of being treated worse by society for the sake of your genetic makeup. Unjust societies are not happy societies. Other areas of impact are on whether it affects someone's employability, either through risk-averse employers or because they are forced to pay more for that employee's health insurance.

Denial of health care to people or adding extra costs to their living limits people's opportunities in life and the last thing US society needs to be doing right now is limiting people's opportunities. They need every productive and successful member of society they can get. Plus the american health insurance companies are raking it in. They're one of the biggest industries going. The cost to the US citizen of health insurance is far out of whack compared to what the equivalent care costs someone via their taxes in most of Western Europe. That suggests that something is off with the industries profit margins already. The above two suggestions would be bad for society and cause quite a bit of suffering. That's reason enough, I think. I'm not sure why you think political correctness has any relevance here.

Re:Not yet (1)

autophile (640621) | more than 6 years ago | (#21393847)

My argument would be that an insurance company is incapable of determining a person's future worth outside of their genetic cost.

--Rob

Re:Not yet (2, Interesting)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392425)

The next step in addressing the issue of genetic discrimination was taken by President Bill Clinton. The President had earlier supported proposed legislation that would have banned all health plans - group or individual - from denying coverage or raising premiums on the basis of genetic information. When the legislation failed to pass Congress, President Clinton issued an executive order ( Executive Order 13145 to Prohibit Discrimination in Federal Employment Based on Genetic Information) in February 2000 prohibiting agencies of the federal government from obtaining genetic information about their employees or job applicants and from using genetic information in hiring and promotion decisions.
Suppose you get a genetic test that at the time shows nothing abnormal so you get your insurance coverage, then a few years later it is shown that you do indeed have a risk for a certain disease- you could very well lose your insurance or at the least have to sell a kidney to get any insurance. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_discrimination [wikipedia.org]

Re:Not yet (1)

TheGoodSteven (1178459) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392829)

Here [govtrack.us] ya go.

Guarentees ? (2, Interesting)

drozofil (1112491) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392185)

What about privacy ? How could one be sure that they don't keep the records in some kind of database ? The possibility to make comparisons with friends/family seems like a pretext to keep that kind of data.

What about the genetic information that cannot be interpreted as of today ? Will it get stored anyways, leaving future analysis possible ? (Is there a subscription for updates ??

What kind of questions these sort of tests can answer that you can't answer ? Besides disease detection (I thought there were people specialized in such matters ... like ... doctors ...), what purpose serve the answers ?

Something Is Missing... (1)

moehoward (668736) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392199)


I read this story earlier in the day on another site and I still don't understand one thing. Many companies offer genetic testing for specific genetic mutations for a heck of a lot more money, and they hold the "patents." For example, Myriad charges over $3,000 just for a BRCA1/2 (breast/ovarian cancer mutation) test.

So, are we really getting the full picture with these full-sequence deals? How do they get around the patents, such as Myriad's? What am I missing? Are you just getting some report of your sequence or are they listing out for you all of your known bad mutations?

Re:Something Is Missing... (5, Informative)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392435)

What they're offering isn't "full sequencing." It's looking at a very specific set of markers (SNPs) which are known to vary widely between individuals. SNP stands for single nucleotide polymorphism -- that means one base pair or bp. There are about three billion bps in the human genome, of which these companies identify about a million, or one out of every three thousand. Such markers are certainly sufficient for genealogy, and are often enough to locate the regions of the genome on which genes predictive for certain diseases may be found, but they're nowhere near the full sequence. By way of analogy (I'm sure someone will come along to punch holes in this, but I think it's a pretty good one) a million-SNP map of your genome is like the satellite view of your house you get from Google; a full sequence is like knowing the location of every blade of grass on your lawn.

Re:Something Is Missing... (2, Insightful)

kilpatjr (65285) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392705)

Someone please mod the parent higher. It's good to see someone who seems to know what's going on.

The grandparent message is correct that the $1000 genome will not tell you about BRCA 1/2 or other "patented" genes. In fact, I'd have a hard time believing this tells users much about many diseases. The truth of the matter is that most genetic disease are caused by several mutations which may elevate risk. Mendelian traits -- those caused by a single mutation -- are quite rare and you're likely to know if you have one. Conditions like lupus, diabetes, heart disease, and numerous others are caused by a combination of LOTS of genes and unknown environmental factors. To give you an idea of the relative importance of the two, the identical twin of someone with lupus has something like a 25% risk of developing the disease (don't impale me if I got the number wrong, 25% is in the neighborhood). To confound matters, mutations outside of genes in parts of the genome formerly referred to as junk DNA play an ill-defined, yet important role in many (or perhaps most) complex genetic diseases. Discovering you have a rare mutation in some seemingly random spot isn't all that helpful, even if it's going to cause you to drop dead some day.

Mapping disease risk mutations is a very rich area of research. Here's a taste: some people suspect that mutations operating in pairs or general n-tuples may cause disease in specific combinations. The drag here is that when these mutations are tested individually, they may show little or no statistical association. To test even all pairs is intractable (NP complete for you CS types) and doing so introduces a statistical nightmare with lots of semi-independent tests inflating the false positive rate.

I'd suggest you save your money for a few years unless you just really want to know about ancestry, which is relatively easy to determine from many fewer SNPs than these companies are offering. I don't recall the details, but I suspect something like this [affymetrix.com] plus freely available software should do the trick. You just need to find a lab with a hyb oven and a microarray scanner and a statistician to do the analysis.

Re:Something Is Missing... (1)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 6 years ago | (#21393009)


Let me get this straight. It's pretty clearly what you're saying but I'm having a hard time actually believing it. In the USA, patent law actually forbids you to look at portions of your own DNA?

Re:Something Is Missing... (1)

Nazlfrag (1035012) | more than 6 years ago | (#21393627)

It's quite insane, and its not just humans but plants, insects, you name it, someones out there patenting a genome sequence of it. It seems ludicrous, but hey look at the crazy stuff they do to modify natural remedies into pharmaceuticals introducing all sorts of unwanted effects, all because they wouldn't let nature be patented. We sure learned our lesson there, won't let that happen again. Damn, its becoming like I don't even know if I'm being sarcastic anymore. That's it, I'm off to take a patent out on the English language - prior art be damned!

Re:Something Is Missing... (1)

kilpatjr (65285) | more than 6 years ago | (#21394281)

I don't know the details, but my understanding is that they're technically patenting the assay, not the DNA sequence, per se. I'd love to be corrected on that.

Re:Something Is Missing... (1)

Hoch (603322) | more than 6 years ago | (#21394473)

You are right in thinking that the grandparent is paranoid. The gene sequences are freely available on the web. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?db=gene&cmd=Retrieve&dopt=full_report&list_uids=672 [nih.gov] details various forms of BRCA1. Also, patenting genes is not as nebulous as it was a few years ago. Now one must have a use, and not just a diagnostic use, for the gene to get a patent.

Re:Something Is Missing... (1)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392813)

I'm sorry. Only car analogies are allowed on Slashdot.

Navigenics (1)

pnotequalsnp (1077279) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392201)

I think it's nice to get 1 million markers genotyped, but what about a comprehensive plan after? My idea would be something like navigenics (www.navigenics.com). Nevertheless, family history is way more informative...

Sure You Know Who Your Father Is? (4, Interesting)

aldheorte (162967) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392211)

People in past discussions mentioned this, but the ability to compare genes with family members may shock more than a few people who do not share as many genetic characteristics with their father and siblings as they thought. Apparently, estimates of conceptive infidelity place the natural rate at a much higher percentage than actually known to the conceived children.

Irrebuttable presumption of paternity (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21392671)

And yet in most US states there is a irrebuttable presumption that a husband is the father of his wife's child if the child was born during the marriage.
So, even if you can prove (DNA testing) that she had an affair and "your child" isn't your child, the courts, in the divorce, will still treat the child as yours and force you to pay support etc. This. of course, is all done in the interest of the child.

Also, paternity fraud (lying about the father of the child) is not considered domestic abuse. It is A-OK as far as the courts are concerned.

Welcome to equality

Anonymity? (3, Insightful)

Mr. Sketch (111112) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392227)

Is this anonymous? Namely so that if it turns out I have some risk factor for a genetic condition, that my health insurance can't find out about it and raise my premiums.

Re:Anonymity? (1)

drozofil (1112491) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392303)

Having such a service with a guaranteed anonymity would solve many privacy issues.

You're not the first to mention related insurance costs. Is it funny or is it greedy ? that I can't tell.

What I thing about these costs is that they should relate to your personal history. DNA isn't part of your personal history (one could argue on that, I won't for now). You're not responsible in any way of what your DNA looks like. You never had any chance to modify it, nor to choose any part of it. If insurance companies had access to such information, they would presumably charge less for people who are less likely to cost money by being ill. It looks more like eugenics using money than anything else.

I find the following statement to be quite a scandal : "The poor, sick bastards will die, not because they're ill, but because we won't afford them the money that could have cured them.". People which have good reason (valid DNA results ?) to think they're "good enough" could disagree. My opinion on that matter is that egotism sucks, large scale egotism sucks even more, and DNA-backed egotism is worse than any other form of it.

go with deCODE then (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21392463)

(1) They're in Iceland. (2) Their service agreement [rootsweb.com] says:

Billing information and shipping information must be provided by deCODEme users in order to buy a Genetic Scan. Both of these information are collected by PayPal ; however only the shipping information is stored in the deCODEme database. Once the buccal swab kit has been sent to users, they are free to delete their shipping information from their profile (my settings).
Also, this [decodeme.com] :

deCODE may disclose your personal information only if we believe such action is necessary to: comply with the law or legal process served up on deCODE or to protect and defend the rights or property of deCODE in relation to your agreement with deCODEme. Except for the above, deCODE will under no circumstances provide any 3'rd party, including insurance companies, health management organizations, hospitals, and government agencies, access to any of your personal data or data derived from your samples unless you grant us an explicit authorization in your privacy settings.
23andMe asks for a name to go along with each sample at the time you order, but I suppose nothing forces you to use real names.

Re:Anonymity? (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392511)

What I thing about these costs is that they should relate to your personal history. DNA isn't part of your personal history (one could argue on that, I won't for now). You're not responsible in any way of what your DNA looks like.

You don't get any choice about when you were born, either -- but they'll still charge higher premiums for you when you're 70 than when you're 30.

Re:Anonymity? (1)

drozofil (1112491) | more than 6 years ago | (#21393543)

You don't get any choice about when you were born, either -- but they'll still charge higher premiums for you when you're 70 than when you're 30.

You age seems directly relevant to what I was calling "personal history". Talking about choice was an error from me. You might argue that there are several things affecting the premiums that you don't choose. However, I draw a line between what describes you considering what you lived through, and what describes you considering the innerds of your genotype.

In black and white we would have on one side the idea that insurance companies should account for everything that relates to you, which would include DNA. On the other side, they shouldn't account for anything relating to you, which would give equal rates for everyone. The line I drawed is somewhere in between.

scared of your HEALTH providers? (5, Insightful)

xtracto (837672) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392325)

Lol, it is so funny to read the comments from this story. I found amusing how there are already various comments wondering how would that affect negatively to their health insurance... whereas this would be *great* for say, someone under the NHS as it would allow the doctors to focus on monitoring those specific genetic conditions.

It just show how screwed up the paradigm of insured medicine is... It is a good thing that this sort of genetic monitoring is becoming available for everybody. However, I find it unfortunate to see that it can be used against those people by the same corporations who are supposed to look for your health... go capitalism!

Re:scared of your HEALTH providers? (1)

JesseMcDonald (536341) | more than 6 years ago | (#21393495)

I found amusing how there are already various comments wondering how would that affect negatively to their health insurance... However, I find it unfortunate to see that it can be used against those people by the same corporations who are supposed to look for your health... go capitalism!

It appears to me that they're mainly worried that the genetic aspects of their health are more risky than they and their insurers previously thought, meaning that the premiums they were paying before were unfairly low. Once their risk is more accurately determined there's obviously no way to justify grouping them with other lower-risk clients.

Prohibiting the rate adjustments, or moving to a socialized health insurance system, would merely externalize the risk onto the other clients. This is clearly the wrong approach, since a fundamental element of civilization is reducing or eliminating any individual's ability to externalize their costs onto others; to codify such an externality into law would be a significant step backwards as a society.

Re:Anonymity? (2, Insightful)

francisstp (1137345) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392367)

Obviously they'll want to know about your condition beforehand!

Imagine if all cancer patients knew in advance they'd almost certainly have cancer, but not the insurance companies. The latter would all go bankrupt because their payout amounts would far exceed the premium payments collected.

You can't have your cake and eat it too and all...

Re:Anonymity? (1)

siwelwerd (869956) | more than 6 years ago | (#21393035)

They wouldn't go bankrupt, they'd just start charging higher premiums, and likely offer you a discount if you could show them a genetic screening showing you're less at risk.

Re:Anonymity? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21392757)

You could avoid giving them any identifying information that could be uniquely traced back to you.
But they'll be sneaky about it, so you must be too! Wear shades. Don't use credit cards, pay in cash. Wipe your fingerprints off the sample vial, etc.
And don't lick the stamp on the envelope, I hear they can trace that stuff these days!

This is great! (5, Interesting)

hikaru2895 (1190419) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392247)

This is great! But who owns the code? The NY Times article says that you aren't given your code, you have to view it through the company's viewer.

Also, who owns your genetic code in a larger sense?

I remember a funny science fiction story, which maybe isn't so funny anymore.

A football team attempted to patent the genetic code for one of it's star running backs, so they could clone him and assure the success of the franchise forever. When he complained, he was told he should have read the fine print of the contract better...

The football team's legal team were trumped, when his parents stepped up and proclaimed thier rights as the original creators of this particular bit of intellectual property...

(i feel inspired to sign up, this is my first post to slashdot, posting is fun!)

deCODE will let you dowload your results (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21392311)

Confirmed here [rootsweb.com] :

I contacted the support team at deCODEme this morning. You will receive the raw data along with reference numbers for the SNPs.
If 23andMe isn't offering raw data, that's a point in favor of deCODE.

Nasty consequences (1)

Emetophobe (878584) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392255)

From the NYT link:

For example, my hands hurt the other day. So naturally, I checked my DNA.

Was this the first sign that I had inherited the arthritis that gnarled my paternal grandmother's hard-working fingers? Logging onto my account at 23andMe, the start-up company that is now my genetic custodian, I typed my search into the "Genome Explorer" and hit return. I was, in essence, Googling my own DNA.

What if you have a more serious condition (or are genetically predisposed to getting some form of cancer for example). I'd imagine insurance companies would love to get ahold of that information. What's going to stop these companies from turning around and selling my DNA records to third parties?

Alas, my NJ overlords prevent me from using it (1)

acvh (120205) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392271)

WTF?

There are states that don't let their citizens see the risk assessment of their own decoded genes?

Re:Alas, my NJ overlords prevent me from using it (2, Informative)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392563)

I think what's going on is an overzeaous application of carelessly written privacy laws. It's not that NJ (or any of the other states on the list) doesn't want you to see the map; it's that the states have laws preventing companies from doing certain kinds of data mining involving other people's genetic data necessary to give you meaningful results. (SNP maps in isolation are pretty useless.) Most likely the laws were written when having this kind of test done for an affordable price was impossible. There are good reasons for safeguarding medical data of all kinds, most certainly including genetic data, but the laws should keep pace with the technology.

Gattaca (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21392295)

Wow, now you will know whether your offspring has all kinds of nasty diseases, without consulting a physician !
What brave new world we live in..

Future (1)

LightPhoenix7 (1070028) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392387)

I always knew Gattaca was a documentary!

Counting numbers (-1, Redundant)

AndrewNeo (979708) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392405)

Couldn't they just have said 1.6 million? Or 1,600,000? But 1 million and 600,000?

Re:Counting numbers (1)

skastrik (971221) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392733)

respectively! deCODEme 1 million, the latter 600,000

Personalized genetic enginering? Bioshock? (1)

SpaceWanderer (1181589) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392441)

Will this bring genetic engineering 1 step closer to public access? Will the public eventually be able to order customized genes for the expression of desirable physical features? I think this would be pretty cool. Or could it be like the distopian city Rapture in Bioshock where mutant splicers running amock? Or will government regulation stifle it?

Insurance (5, Insightful)

MikShapi (681808) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392593)

How do we expect insurance companies to handle this? What about the "two publics"?

On one hand, doomsayers here are saying insurance companies can choose to not insure someone with certain genes or charge them insane amounts.
Scary, but the solution is obvious -
[1] force insurance companies to ensure ANYONE
[2] legally define and enforce a ceiling rate they can charge, regardless of how bad your genes look.

I can already hear privacy advocates screaming and yelling "why give them our genes in the first place"? That's a moot point for two reasons -
1. It's a losing battle. Eventually, our genes (or those of our relatives) will be accessible.
2. Hiding our genes in general os shooting ourselves in the foot. Some (and I belong to this group, hence will use "we") may WANT their genes to be publicly available, much like I want source to be available. So products, offerings, solutions to problems and industry can spring due to their availability.

The most obvious reason not to hide our genes, however, is simple: people who have non-fucked genes will want to, they will pay a lower premium. Money talks.

Here is how it will most likely evolve from what we have today:

We pay today default premium X. I will assume charging >X is not financially feasible due to competition, and that X is the sweet spot.

Insurance companies will offer a genetic evaluation kit. It allows one to PRIVATELY evaluate himself, and submit the results to the insurance companies if his genes are ok, thereby halving his premium to 0.5X.

After a period of adoption, let's say several years, The percentage of "fucked genes" individuals in the default pool will be much higher, as many of the "ok genes" individuals have opted to pay less by letting their genes be known to the insurance company. The insurance expenses associated with maintaining the default pool will go up, causing X to go up to 2X, causing more and more people to abandon that pool.

At some point government regulation kicks in, and sets a government-controlled ceiling rate for the default rate (much like they control minimum wage).

Since the default rate is now at 2X, the insurance companies set the "ok genes" rate back from 0.5X to X, as it allows them to both maintain their incentive for people to abandon the default-paying group and share their genes, as well as allowing them to charge as much as the market allows - X.

It may be 0.9X (as the minority that costs the most is covering its expenses through a higher rate and possible government subsidation, hence making the competition-induced sweet-spot lower than when this included many expensive cases to treat).

I predict this will happen, as this is where the incentives are today. Note that the primary driving force here is consumer "greed", not insurance companies. People will want to pay that lower premium, even if crappy prophets such as myself predict that once the "fucked genes" people were isolated in the default group, everyone's rates will go back to what they were before (except the defaulters that will pay more). People will FLOCK once lower rates are offered, because people are damn well motivated by paying less.

Insurance companies WILL know our genes and it's a losing battle.

Think it through. Share your opinion.
It's something that requires thought and debate NOW.

Re:Insurance (4, Insightful)

evanbd (210358) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392895)

There's another interesting potential use for genetic disease screening. I don't know if it applies to any known diseases now, but I'm certain it will eventually.

Suppose there's a disease for which there is a genetic test, but also good preventative care options. Ideally, you'd want to take the test, find out that you're at risk, and have the insurance company pay for the prevantative care. In an ideal world, that's what they would want too -- the preventative care would cost them less than paying if you actually did get sick. Both parties would then want the test administered, and want the other party to know the result.

Re:Insurance (1)

mrsteveman1 (1010381) | more than 6 years ago | (#21393341)

Thats why this stuff needs to NOT be a secret, however I don't know that the insurance companies will refrain from charging more based on the results of that test etc.

Re:Insurance (1)

evanbd (210358) | more than 6 years ago | (#21394069)

Well, given the current structure of our insurance system, having it be open would be a really bad idea. Which is quite unfortunate. I was speaking to a more idealized case than the current US healthcare system.

Re:Insurance (2, Insightful)

autophile (640621) | more than 6 years ago | (#21393957)

Suppose there's a disease for which there is a genetic test, but also good preventative care options. Ideally, you'd want to take the test, find out that you're at risk, and have the insurance company pay for the prevantative care. In an ideal world, that's what they would want too -- the preventative care would cost them less than paying if you actually did get sick.

I disagree.

Suppose the insurance company gets the results of the test. Then the company could just drop coverage altogether, so that they have to pay neither the preventive care cost, nor the cost of the disease.

Suppose the insurance company does NOT get the results of the test. Then the company could just drop coverage as soon as the cost of the disease becomes apparent.

Dropping coverage could also involve increasing premiums to an unaffordable rate, thus having the same effect.

Relatedly, the House passed the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2007 (H.R. 493) [genome.gov] by 420-3. The three were Republicans: Flake (AZ), Paul (TX), and Royce (CA). Well done, nutjobs. The Senate has yet to pass its version (S.358).

In any case, since the bill is not yet law, there may be nothing stopping insurance companies from discriminating against your genetic makeup.

--Rob

Re:Insurance (2, Insightful)

evanbd (210358) | more than 6 years ago | (#21394055)

Normally, insurance companies aren't allowed to drop coverage or raise rates based on information that becomes available after your coverage starts. (If you have information that you withhold when signing up, that's a different story.)

Re:Insurance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21393185)

what you just outlined is outside the scope of 90% of people.

In reality, nobody thinks in terms of premiums and so forth.

people just want to stay alive and healthy long enough to have kids, see their kids become adults, educated, and explore the world.
They want to support their children until they die or until their kids are able to provide for themselves.
Modern health care has RUINED this country. no longer can you go to your doctor and ask for treatment.
you must be insured, covered, able to afford the premium, be in a qualified category, able to continue working after the procedure, not be a loss to the HMO, not be a losing proposition, not be genetically inferior....

why can't we just let people invest their savings as they want?
why can't we just let people get the medical treatment they want?
why can't we just let doctors treat people as they see fit?
why can't we get the goddamn useless goverment out of healthcare?

captcha for this post is.... "superb"

Re:Insurance (1)

mrsteveman1 (1010381) | more than 6 years ago | (#21393227)

The whole point of insurance is to create a pool of money so that people who actually need to use it for a medical bill, can offset the costs. If you start excluding people entirely from the pool based on genes, that pool will shrink to nothing. Tiered rates based on genetic information are another issue, but even in that case medical costs would still hopefully be offset from the real cost.

What is unprofitable becomes unavailable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21393595)

force insurance companies to ensure ANYONE

Be careful how you implement that. If you make the insurance business unprofitable, shareholders will vote in boards that will stop writing new policies and invest the company's assets elsewhere (or distribute them through dividends), and nobody will find it the best use of their money to form new insurance businesses.

Re:What is unprofitable becomes unavailable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21394203)

That's why they invented
[a] Government regulation
[b] Socialistic elements, even in modern democracies.

I believe this is how most democracies will implement this, given their track record of putting their citizen's good in the front, even when it means using taxpayer money for this purpose. Using taxpayer money on the taxpayers. Heaven forbid.

How corporate oligarchies run by industry lobbyists in blatant disrespect of the citizen's good will implement it is anyone's guess.

The offerings: Navigenics vs 23andMe vs deCODEme (5, Informative)

mexicanpizza (1151143) | more than 6 years ago | (#21392787)

The three main personalized genomics companies that have hinted at their offerings (23andMe, deCODEme, and Navigenics) are all basically offering the same product, SNP genotyping:

23andMe: 550k SNPs + 30k custom SNPs, $999

deCODEme: >1M SNPs, $985

Navigenics: $2500, with hints at a "lock-in" model where you purchase a subscription service for continued updates as science understands more about disease:genotype correlation.

...however, deCODEme is founded by perhaps the largest private genetics-centered biopharma firm. It will be interesting to see how this plays out as the IT-strong 23andMe competes with the science-strong deCODEme.

One company that was not mentioned is Knome [knome.com] . They haven't released details of their service, but instead of SNPs, they plan to offer whole genome sequencing. This is the direction that all of the above companies will head, once it's economically feasible to sequence the whole genome.

(Most of this has been summarized on my site: http://seqanswers.com [seqanswers.com] )

Tres Huevos (1, Interesting)

PingXao (153057) | more than 6 years ago | (#21393059)

My new startup will allow parents to sequence the genes of their male offspring to include a third testicle. What better way to increase the odds that your bloodline will survive the coming century of famine and war? And that's only the beginning. It is not government's role to interfere with progress or business, so nobody better try and stop me.

Re:Tres Huevos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21393327)

I've got a better idea. How about putting the first two testicles someplace smarter...

i can see the facebook plugin now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21393151)

Are you genetically similar to your friends?
How well do your friends know your hereditary defects?

and my personal favourite,
You have been splattered with X's DNA! Do you wish to Have the Baby, or Abort?
Join to Impregnate Chumps | Ignore

(by submitting your genetic information to Facebook, you are granting Facebook the right to use your clone in targeted advertising)

Google Link (1)

Flamesplash (469287) | more than 6 years ago | (#21393899)

Just a tidbit, 23AndMe was created by Anne Wojcicki, who is Sergey Brin [wikipedia.org] 's wife
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...