Me and my genome
I just got my DNA sequenced. We're living in the future.
A very short history of DNA sequencing
1995 - A few months before I started university the first free-living organism's DNA (Haemophilus influenzae) was sequenced at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars. This bacteria has 1.8m base pairs.
2001 - A couple of years after I left university, the Human Genome Project published the first complete human genome at a cost of $3 billion. Human DNA has around 3bn base pairs.
2015 - Fourteen years later I can get my DNA analysed for £125.
A company in the States called 23andme offers personal genome testing. You spit in a test tube and send it to them. They look at your DNA to identify your ancestry, assess your risk of genetic diseases, predicted response to drugs, and check for inherited conditions. They started in 2008 but only began offering the service in the UK at the end of last year.
Ever since I found out they were offering the service in the UK I've wanted to get it done, and writing it up here seemed like a good excuse to do it! This blog is the best idea I've ever had.
So what have I learned?
I am the 0.1%
No real surprises here, I'm 99.9% European.
The remaining 0.1% is from Yakut, a part of northern Russia the size of India with less than a million inhabitants. This explains why I've always loved playing the board game Risk!
An estimated 2.8% of my DNA is from Neanderthals, compared to a European average of 2.7%. Neanderthals are the closest evolutionary relatives of modern humans, who went extinct about 40,000 years ago.
Genetic Risk Factors
This is the bit I'm really interested in, I'm not that bothered about how much DNA I share with Neandethals. 23andme looks at sections of your DNA that are associated with an increased risk of a variety of diseases. If you come up as a higher risk, it doesn't mean that you're definitely going to get the disease, but you might want to look into it further.
23andme gave me typical risk for nine genetic risk factors including Parkinsons, but it did flag up higher risk for two diseases that I wasn't aware of. It turns out that the rest of my family are well aware of one of them, so I'm looking at ways to avoid it.
For the other genetic risk I've registered for clinical trials with the National Institute for Health Research, to see if I can help find a cure in case I get it! I'm not really concerned about this, it's a late-onset disease and there's no history of it in my family who have all survived way past the age it normally appears.
This section of the report gives me the all-clear for expected responses to drugs like Warfarin and Abacavir which can cause problems if you're sensitive to them.
It gave one abnormal response, I'm likely to metabolise a certain kind of medicine more quickly than normal. So if I ever do need to take it, I can let my doctor know that I might need a higher dose than most people.
Given how much doctors seem to hate self-diagnosis and information gleaned from the internet, I can only imagine my doctor's response to this.
A clean sweep here for 45 inherited conditions. To be honest I'd probably already know if I'd inherited most of them, like cystic fibrosis or the delicious-sounding Maple Syrup Urine Disease.
The last section is fun - do my genes match me? According to 23andme:
- I'm likely to have straight-ish non-balding blonde hair and blue eyes
- I drink an average amount of coffee and metabolise it more slowly than average
- I can taste bitter things, I have typical odds of disliking coriander and can smell asparagus in my urine after eating it
- I have a lower than average preference for sweet foods.
Absolutely fascinating, I'm really glad I did it. If you're interested here's a link - let me know what you discover!
In ten days we're leaving the UK for new adventures in Spain...Read more
Archive2016December 2016 (2)November 2016 (2)October 2016 (2)September 2016 (3)August 2016 (4)July 2016 (5)June 2016 (4)May 2016 (4)April 2016 (5)March 2016 (4)February 2016 (4)January 2016 (5)2015December 2015 (4)November 2015 (4)October 2015 (5)September 2015 (4)August 2015 (4)July 2015 (4)June 2015 (4)May 2015 (5)April 2015 (4)March 2015 (4)February 2015 (4)January 2015 (4)
What's this about?
Hi I'm Mat and I'm addicted to new hobbies. I used to think this was a bad thing but now I'm embracing it.
Writing them all up in this blog encourages me to finish projects, and helps me keep track of which ones I've tried.
I've seen some great Mentos and Diet Coke eruption videos on Youtube, and I've always wondered whether other soft drinks work too...
Also in Experiments...
Pretty much everything we can observe about the universe comes from the light we can see from stars...