DNA Testing in the Czech Republic

DNA Testing in the Czech Republic

by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei
Posted June 21, 2007 in DNA Around the World, DNA and Genealogy

Czech-Republic-flagDNA testing is a growing business in the Czech Republic. Genomac and Forensic DNA Service lead the pack and it hasn’t been a friendly competition.

In 2006, Genomac began offering ancestry testing and the response from the public was encouraging. Previously, the company had been providing paternity testing along with other DNA tech services starting in 2001 when it was founded by Marek Minarik and his sister, Lucie Benesova. Since introducing genetic genealogy, Genomac has sold some 5,000 DNA ancestry tests costing about $55.80 and of these, 3,000 customers agreed to have their DNA profiles stored in the database so that they can connect with people sharing the same lineage. The database is meant to be a tribute to national heritage.

In an interview with Radio Prague, Marek Minarik said:

…one thing that really surprised us and did not come out until we had a thousand people in the database was how related we really are. And this is one of the things we plan to announce when we open the database, basically a fact that every third person in the database has at least two other relatives in the database. Now, of course, because we don’t investigate these people, they might be people in the family. However, when we looked at the last names, we did not find any common last names in there.

Competitor Forensic DNA Service, which does not offer ancestry testing but provides forensic and paternity testing, believes that Genomac has broken the law by not registering with the Office of Personal Data Protection. And, founder Daniel Vanek, a leading Czech forensic geneticist and former police officer, is wary of Genomac’s promise to keep everything private and free from other interference, including bribes.

I don’t know what the cultural environment is like in the Czech Republic concerning personal privacy, but Genomac is not much different than DNA testing companies in other countries. Genetic genealogy companies are proud of their databases and protect their exclusivity not just because of privacy concerns, but also because customers want to know they’re getting access to data not available elsewhere. Genomac is serving a niche market and doing well. Perhaps instead of trying to block new ideas with bureaucracy, Vanek should think of other ways to educate the Czech people on the many ways DNA can enhance their lives.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , genealogy

(6 comments)


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6 Comments

Comment by NA

This is the most interesting post you have shared with us. Thanks! I find it really interesting that “every third person in the database has at least two other relatives in the database.”

I’m in the process of developing a protocol to do a research project to do family histories for all of the most common genetic conditions. My goal is for every person who has been diagnosed with the most common genetic conditions (i.e, DS or CF); I want to trace the family history as many generations back as I can. My hope is to find connections in the family history from different regions of the world. This way we can predict the risk of the next child in the family line to have CF or DS.

I plan on going global as a genetic counselor. There are a lot of regions in this world where people don’t have access to genetic counseling services. So I want to reach out to as many of these people as I can.

Comment by Hsien

I’m so glad I’m not the only one who found this fascinating. And I’m glad you’re so motivated to bring genetics to the world. :)

 
Comment by Cath. Subscribed to comments via email

CF is caused by a mutation in that gene. It is, therefore, best to test for this specific mutation and not for “relatedness”. Two people may be very related, like brother and sister and not have CF, yet two totally unrelated people will.

The only reason Genomac is finding so many people to be related is because they only test very few markers, making the tests quite inconclusive. It’s like saying that all people with blond hair are related.

Comment by Hsien

Cath, Thanks for clarifying.

For others who are interested in learning more about cystic fibrosis and the responsible gene on chromosome 7, please see the Human Genome Project.

(Comments wont nest below this level)
 
 
 

[...] DNA Testing in the Czech Republic (from Eye on DNA) DNA testing is a growing business in the Czech Republic. Genomac and Forensic DNA Service lead the pack and it hasn’t been a friendly competition. [...]

 

[...] do I know about DNA testing in the Czech Republic? Virtually nothing except for what I dug up last week on Genomac and Forensic DNA Service. Ludvik [...]

 

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