Website Provides Context To Online Genetic Tests
Does 23andMe tell the whole story? New science provides greater context to online genetic tests.
VortexDNA, the Christchurch New Zealand company that has mapped the genome of human intention, today launched www.myDNAchoice.com, a new website to provide people with the information they need to make an informed decision about online genetic testing.
"Given the recent publicity about online genetic testing services, in particular the launch of Google-funded www.23andMe.com, we wanted to bring the science presented on these sites up to date," says Branton Kenton-Dau, one of VortexDNA's directors. "Advances in the last few years, especially in the field of epigenetics, now make it clear that we have choices beyond the genes our parents gave us."
VortexDNA's own contribution to the field of epigenetics has been the discovery that people's beliefs have the same vortex/helix structure as their physical DNA. When this structure is mapped through a short survey, it provides an 'intention genome': a 'DNA' of their beliefs.
The company claims the genome, when embedded in a browser through the mywebDNA Firefox extension, can help people to organise the Web around who they are. "This includes better search results, meeting people like you, letting people find you on your favourite sites, and much more--without ever compromising your privacy," says Nick Gerritsen, another director of the company.
While genetic testing can offer significant benefits, there are also some serious potential repercussions when the results seem inevitable. People have committed suicide because their physical DNA tests show a gene associated with a particular disease.*
"Genetic testing can be bad for your health," comments Kenton-Dau, "because many people still believe that their physical DNA completely determines who they are. The test results make them feel a victim of circumstances beyond their control, which is a shame because the science shows that quite the opposite is true: we have a substantial amount of power over the direction of our lives."
Backed by growing research from the field of epigenetics, the VortexDNA team contend that environmental influences, including nutrition, stress levels and mental state, say as much about who we are as our physical DNA does. "That's an exciting development," says Gerritsen. "It means that we are much more in control of our destinies than the old science suggests."
VortexDNA validated their research against Google SearchTM results. "We were able to demonstrate a 14% prediction rate between links with low relevance and those with high relevance for individual genomes," says Gerritsen. "Browsing with your DNA embedded in your browser with the mywebDNA extension is the first step towards letting the Web, and your life, organise around who you are. Your DNA should not leave you feeling a victim of events that took place before you were born; it should be about what you are choosing to make of your life today."
Reference: * 'Welcome to the Future' by David Ewing Duncan, Condé Nast Portfolio, November 2007.