Yes, I would offer my DNA info for research

Google co-founder wants to upend drug development. Knowing he is at risk of developing Parkinson's, he invested in an initiative to find some genetic clues.

My colleague Andrew Nusca asked yesterday— "Would you offer your genetic information for such a cause?" — in his story about Google co-founder Sergey Brin's quest for a Parkinson's cure . With a 50 percent chance of developing the same disease Michael J. Fox, Brin isn't going to just sit there and hope for the best. And as we all know, Googling for the answers can only go so far.

His wife, Anne Wojcicki, founded the genetics company called 23andMe, with a goal of helping you learn more about yourself through your genes. But in the grander scheme of things, the company has world (DNA) domination plans to create the world's largest database of genetic information. With some of Brin's money, an initiative run through 23andMe will focus on some 10,000 people already diagnosed with Parkinson's to dig up some clues.

After reading Nusca's post, I felt guilty I have not logged into my 23andMe in a while. It's not like I check it every day like I do email or Facebook.

Today, I took some time to answer some of the questions for their "Research Snippets" section.

  • Do you frequently develop nose bleeds? No.
  • Have you ever been diagnosed with a kidney infection. No.
  • Have you ever been diagnosed with appendicitis? No.
  • Have you ever been diagnosed with restless leg syndrome? No.
  • Have you ever been diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome. No, but I worry about this!

So, you get the idea. You can see how you compare to other people who took the test. Ideally, the more data I have about myself, the more I will know. And if the research is done right, patterns about diseases within certain populations will emerge (if the database is large enough and if the research is done right).

Esther Dyson, who is on the board of directors at 23andMe, keeps track of her own data. Here's why:

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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