Thursday, November 25, 2010

23andMe - Sale or Upgrade?

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA   –   November 24, 2010   –   23andMe announced today that the company has transitioned to the third version of the company's genotyping array.    The new technology will allow the company to test approximately one million single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs).    Customers who purchase the 23andMe Personal Genome Service™ on or after Wednesday, November 24th will have their DNA tested on the new version of the array.

“With the introduction of our third generation chip, customers will now be tested on approximately one million SNPs, nearly doubling the number of SNPs tested,” said 23andMe Co-founder and CEO, Anne Wojcicki.    “Over time, our customers will be able to get access to enhanced reporting about their DNA results through our Personal Genome Service™.”

23andMe has combined Illumina's HumanOmniExpress array with significant customization to create a more comprehensive testing platform.    The new chip has backwards compatibility, ensuring the company can continue to provide reporting that is consistent with what it currently offers as well as improve and develop new reporting for the future.    Below are just a few of the genotyping enhancements that are included:

• Increased coverage of drug metabolizing enzymes and transporters (DMET) as well as other genes associated with response to various drugs.
• Increased coverage of gene markers associated with Cystic Fibrosis and other Mendelian diseases such as Tay-Sachs.
• Denser coverage of the Human Leukocyte Antigen region, which contains genes related to many autoimmune conditions.

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The DNA chip that we use genotypes hundreds of thousands of SNPs at one time.    It actually reads 1,000,000 SNPs that are spread across your entire genome.    Although this is still only a fraction of the 10 million SNPs that are estimated to be in the human genome, these 1,000,000 SNPs are specially selected "tag SNPs."    Because many SNPs are linked to one another, we can often learn about the genotype at many SNPs at a time just by looking at one SNP that "tags" its group.    This maximizes the information we can get from every SNP we analyze, while keeping the cost low.

In addition, we have hand-picked tens of thousands of additional SNPs of particular interest from the scientific literature and added their corresponding probes to the DNA chip.

v2 chip = 580,000 SNPs
v3 chip = over 1,000,000 SNPs

* * * * * * * * *

For current customers - $89 upgrade.

What is the upgrade?
23andMe recently improved the chip it uses to analyze your DNA.    Our new platform adds new genetic markers that give you even more information about diseases, traits and your ancient ancestry.

Do I have to upgrade?
No.    If you do not, you will still have all of your existing platform chip information and will continue to receive updates on new discoveries about the markers on that platform.    But as research advances, some new information will not be available to you if you're not on the latest platform.

How much does it cost?
See the table below for upgrade pricing.    If you have another 23andMe account, log into that account to upgrade the profiles in it.     Please note:    upgrading to the latest platform requires a Personal Genome Service subscription.

* * * * * * * * *
The Personal Genome Service subscriptions includes:
• Updates when new discoveries are made about your DNA
• Secure storage of your DNA sample
• Discounts on future platform upgrades
• Alerts when new genetic relatives are discovered throughout the world
• Browsable raw data

* * * * * * * * *
How does the new Person Genome Service subscription impact existing customers?
There is no impact to existing customers.    Existing customers will continue to receive account updates on their current platform without a subscription.

* * * * * * * * *
What happens to my account if I cancel my subscription?
You may choose to cancel your subscription anytime after the commitment term.    You will retain access to any existing reports and features, as well as your raw genotype data.    If you choose to cancel you will no longer receive new Health Reports, existing Health Report updates, nor new Relative Finder matches.    If you opted to biobank your sample, your biobanked sample may be discarded.     You will no longer have access to the Browse Raw Data feature (download of raw data is also available) and you will no longer be eligible to receive discounts on future platform upgrades.

My take:

We're not given a lot of information on how this upgrade might benefit the genetic genealogy community.    Most of the custom SNPs seem to be aimed at medical conditions.

Communication is not this company's strong suit.    I've not seen an 'Official' notice of the 'Sale'.    I've seen no indication that the $89 upgrade price is in any way time limited.    My guess is that the $99 'Sale' is time-limited and I seem to recall having seen somewhere that it ends at midnight on Nov. 26th.    California Time?    The difficulty is that despite an extensive Google search I haven't been able to confirm an ending date or time.

If you are a current customer and think that you might want to take advantage of the added information from the new chip, my recommendation (and what I did) is to order the $99 test using an alternate email address.    The possibility apparently exists that by 'upgrading' and declining the monthly service after the year we'll be worse off than we would be by not upgrading at all.    A $10 saving to introduce that uncertainty doesn't seem like a bargain to me.    What I'll have is the bother of two accounts but the comfort that if I determine that the monthly service charge is of no benefit to me I can drop it without worry about destroying the utility of my original test.

If you want to order an Upgrade you do that through 'My Profile' under your 'Account' tab.    There you will see a notice that 'This profile is eligible for an upgrade. Learn more.'    Click the 'Learn more' and enter your order.

If you want to order a new test for $99 click on , then click on 'Order Now' and enter one of these promo codes in the box:    GIZMODO99       LOYALFAN       B84YAG

    Promo codes are apparently no longer needed.    This from their website:    "$99 price valid through 11/29 or while supplies last.    Limit 10 per person." and it apparently is good until sometime Monday (unless supplies don't last).    This from their Facebook page:    "23andMe Get our service at 80% off and save $400!    This awesome deal starts now.    All day Black Friday and until Cyber Monday!"


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The deal has been extended through Christmas:

12:15 PM  

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