As costs decline, a future in which everyone will be able to afford the sequencing of their own genome is approaching.

While many companies that are developing next-generation DNA sequencing technologies do offer DNA sequencing services mainly for researchers, these companies often do not provide analysis suitable for the average consumer. For now, several independent companies are offering DNA analysis kits for a few hundred dollars, relying on technologies developed by other companies. DNA analysis from these companies rely on genotyping, or examining genetic variations in a particular individual, instead of sequencing the entire genome. Look below for 23andMe, one company that provides these DNA analysis services. If it catches your interest, you can even buy a DNA kit for yourself! (20)

23andMe is a company which specializes in DNA analysis for consumers. (Its name refers to the 23 chromosome pairs of a human genome.) Its Personal Genome Service uses the Illumina OmniExpress chip (read more about Illumina's technology here). One can simply buy a kit ($99 plus a minimum 1-year subscription with a $9 monthly fee, as of March 2012), mail back a saliva sample, and view results from its lab online. Through analysis of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), which represent unique variations in genes among individuals, 23andMe reveals ancestry and heritage, as well as "risk genes" for 44 inherited diseases such as breast cancer or cystic fibrosis. 23andMe represents the development of personalized genomics, slowly leading to the day when we will be able to prevent future diseases we might develop, receive personalized medication, or trace back our entire ancestry and family relations. Visit the company's home page here. (20)


A sample health overview from 23andme. Click to enlarge.

 23andMe and other DNA analysis services are just a few examples of ways that DNA sequencing can help individuals right now, at a relatively low cost. In the future, as technology becomes more advanced, we can expect more novel applications of DNA sequencing.

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