DNA Inventions and Gadgets

Navigenics Introduces Physician Portal and Annual Insight Service

by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei
Posted January 29, 2009 in DNA Products, DNA Testing

Consumers of genetic testing now have two new services to consider from Navigenics.

From the press release:

Navigenics’ Physician Portal

…Navigenics has developed the ability for physicians, with the approval of their patients, to receive and easily review patient genetic results online, with easy access to condition information, action steps, and original scientific research. Access to the physician portal is free to physicians who register their practices.

Annual Insight Service

Navigenics’ Annual Insight service retails for $499 and analyzes an individual’s genetic predisposition for ten common health conditions (nine each for men and women), including breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer and heart disease.

Annual Insight also includes one hour of genetic counseling and if the consumer chooses to upgrade, the cost can be applied to the more comprehensive Health Compass service that includes a genome-wide scan, 24/7 genetic counseling, and ongoing updates for $2500.

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DNA Video: Illumina on Wallstrip

by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei
Posted June 7, 2008 in DNA Podcasts and Videos, DNA Products

Interesting little summary on the history of Illumina.

They look through your DNA and discover your genetic code.

via business|bytes|genes|molecules

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DNA 11 Introduces GenePak Genome Analysis

by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei
Posted June 3, 2008 in DNA Products

pic genepak bookletOne of the coolest ways to have fun with your DNA is via DNA art and the leader in the marketplace is undeniably DNA 11, creators of DNA portraits. Today, DNA 11 launches the GenePak upgrade which will identify four genes during DNA processing. With the enclosed booklet, customers can identify the specific DNA fragments in their DNA portraits that show their genotype for the following genes.

  • Sport: Show off your muscles without having to flex. This gene called ACTN2 is expressed in all muscle cells.
  • Brain: This gene — IGF-2 — is associated with intelligence. It is not the only gene whose expression correlates with IQ, but one of them that is involved in development of the brain
  • Love: This gene — NGF2 – is one of the genes responsible for those butterflies in your stomach when you meet that special someone.
  • Gender: This gene — Amelogenin — is often used to determine whether someone is male or female.

    ~Press Release

pic genepak sm

Co-founder Nazim Ahmed:

Our clients have been so happy with their unique DNA art portraits that we wanted to add even more insightful and exciting options for them. This new GenePakâ„¢ option allows clients to analyze their genes in an interesting way that creates great entertainment value for friends and family.

GenePack is available for an additional $99 with any DNA portrait as an upgrade.

NB: DNA 11 was recently mentioned in this Clarion-Ledger article – Getting personal: Products touting individuality appeal to the masses.



Watch Detects Alien DNA

by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei
Posted May 22, 2008 in DNA Products

Are you aware of the dangers alien DNA can wreak? Probably not unless you’re wearing the Tokyoflash Biohazard watch.

biohazard watch 2

With the threat of Alien Invasion growing ever closer & the distinct possibility that “they” are already here, it’s about time we had a device to detect the humans from the human-oids. The Biohazard wrist scanner probes the immediate vicinity for Alien DNA & displays the results so that you may assess the threat level.

Available for just $179.29 plus free shipping.

HT: Boing Boing



What $2500 Can Buy in DNA Services

by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei
Posted April 9, 2008 in DNA Products, DNA Testing

raining money 5Genetic testing continues to get cheaper but not to the extent where everyone can afford every DNA service they have their heart set on. But that’s life, isn’t it?

My mom used to equate everything with the cost of pizzas as in “this pair of shoes could get you three large pizzas!” In that vein, let’s see how much $2500 can get you in the personal genomics marketplace.

$2500 can buy you:

  • One Navigenics Health Compass membership – initiation and one year subscription
  • Ten years of Navigenics annual subscription fees at $250 each year after initial purchase
  • Two 23andMe accounts at $999 USD each with $502 to spare
  • Two deCODEme accounts at $985 USD each with $530 to spare
  • Twelve General Interest Panels of genetic tests from DNA Traits at $199 each with $112 to spare
  • Seven alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency genetic tests at DNA Direct at $330 each with $190 to spare
  • 0.71% of a $350,000 whole genome sequence from Knome
  • Two Gene Essence genetic tests from BioMarker Pharmaceuticals at $1195 each with $110 to spare
  • Two 1-working day express service DNA paternity tests from DNA Diagnostics Center at $995 each with $510 to spare
  • Sixteen HairDX genetic tests at $149 each with $116 to spare
  • Eight Suracell “DNA Based Age Management” DNA tests (via Bitar Cosmetic Surgery Institute) at $300 each with $100 to spare
  • Twelve Advanced Paternal Lineage Test (Y-chromosome 46) from DNA.Ancestry.com at $199 each with $112 to spare
  • Four DNA11 DNA art portraits at $525 each with $400 to spare.

Of course, looking at price alone isn’t a fair comparison since each company above provides vastly different services and genetic information to their customers from genetic genealogy to art to single disease testing to whole genome sequencing. Cost is a factor, however, in most consumers’ purchasing decisions so it’s interesting to see how prices stack up.

What would you do with $2500?



BioMarker Pharmaceuticals Launches the Gene Essence Test

by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei
Posted March 31, 2008 in DNA Products, DNA Testing

Personal genomics customers can’t complain that there’s no competition in the marketplace. San Jose, California-based company BioMarker Pharmaceuticals has launched the Gene Essence test that sounds like another genome scan service.

Based on recent advances in DNA analysis technology, the Gene Essence(TM) test provides customers with personalized genetic information that is unique to each individual. The web-based service enables customers to learn which inherited traits they may have acquired and provides individuals with access to the latest research results in the rapidly expanding field of genome analysis. Customers can learn how the genetic markers in their genomes relate to a large number of health-related conditions which have been published in peer-reviewed scientific literature.

Dr. Ivan Labat, Sr. Director of Research and Product Development, claims the Gene Essence test is “the most comprehensive personalized genetic test available.” That may be but I can’t find the product on the BioMarker Pharmaceuticals website so even if I wanted to, I wouldn’t know how to order it!

Other products offered by BioMarker Pharmaceuticals include aging intervention technologies incorporating nutraceuticals BM-A1 and BM-A2, “proprietary herbal combination formulas.” The company is also doing research into calorie restriction.

NB: I’ve emailed the company for more info.

Update: I missed the Gene Essence website in the press release – http://GeneEssence.com (the site seems to take a long time to load in Firefox).



Whole Genome Sequencing Costs Continue to Drop

by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei
Posted February 11, 2008 in DNA Inventions and Gadgets, DNA Testing, DNA in General

money ben franklinsOne of the cheapest going prices for whole human genome sequencing has been set by Illumina at $100,000 with completion time of less than four weeks. Last year, 454 Life Sciences claimed a complete sequence in two months at around $1 million.

While Illumina and 454 Life Sciences (Roche) are considered by some to be leaders of the pack, Dr. Jonathan Eisen of The Tree of Life says competitors are emerging, including ABI and Helicos. Helicos BioSciences has received its first order for the Helicos Genetic Analysis System that includes HeliScope Single Molecule Sequencer, the HeliScope Analysis Engine, and the HeliScope Sample Loader.

Even as sequencing becomes cheaper and more efficient, Dr. Eisen reminds us of two considerations: data management and analysis as well as linking gene sequence to function. Writing from the Advances in Genome Biology and Technology conference in Marco Island, FL, Dr. Eisen:

Function and process have been replaced by terms like “systems biology” and “SNPs” and “networks” and “massively parallel.” We have in a way regressed in terms of treating organisms (or communities) as a black box. Fine scale detail has been lost in a sea of data.

Regardless, the big race now is towards the $1,000 genome and the Archon X PRIZE for Genomics. The first team to sequence 100 human genomes in 10 days for $10,000 or less per genome will win $10 million.

To aid in the sequencing of genomes, Pacific Biosciences aka PacBio is developing a “transformative DNA sequencing platform.” Their machines can read more bases at one go than others.

  • PacBio – 1,000+ bases
  • Human Genome Project – 800+ bases
  • Illumina – 30-50 bases
  • 454 Life Sciences – 200 to 450 bases

PacBio expects to begin selling machines in 2010 with second-generation machines that can perform $1,000 whole genome sequencing available in 2013. The New York Times has a profile of the company and their technology (Dr. Eisen has more). Other companies mentioned were Intelligent Bio-Systems, NABsys, VisiGen Biotechnologies, and Complete Genomics.

holy grailVentureBeat’s David Hamilton :

Although the “$1,000 genome” is a purely arbitrary goal, it’s become a Holy Grail of sorts for the genomics field. (The startup Knome, which we covered here, currently offers full-genome sequencing for $350,000.) Cheap, fast sequencing of all six billion DNA “letters,” or bases, in humans could make it possible, for instance, for doctors to better tailor treatments to a patient’s own genetic quirks or to identify the specific weaknesses of tumor cells. More broadly, it would also vastly increase our understanding of the genome, which has turned out to be a much more mysterious realm than just about anyone expected only a decade ago, and illuminate the ways DNA varies between individuals, groups and even among cells and tissues within a single individual.

There’s obviously a lot of DNA sequencing going on and it’s not limited to the US. Medical Solutions has become the UK’s first commercial provider of Illumina’s DNA sequencing and genotyping platforms – Genome Analyzer and Infinium on the BeadStation platform, respectively.

For those preparing themselves to have their whole genome sequenced, I recommend following Misha Angrist’s lead – So You Want To Know Your Genome .

NB: Jonathan Eisen, David Hamilton, Misha Angrist, and I are all members of The DNA Network .



DNA Auction: UK DNA Double Helix Coin

by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei
Posted January 24, 2008 in DNA on Auction

dna double helix coin

The £2 coin from the UK you see on the left was minted in 2003 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of James Watson and Francis Crick’s discovery of DNA’s double helix . It was designed by sculptor John Mills. This DNA coin is now available on e-Bay UK for a starting bid of £0.99. Auction ends on January 27, 2008 at 21:26 GMT.

(>> Start a discussion!)


Applied DNA Sciences – Technology for Anti-Counterfeit and Security

by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei
Posted January 23, 2008 in DNA Products, DNA and the Law

applied dna sciencesEarlier this month, I had some fun with a sign that I saw on Queensway in London, UK. It claimed that the neighborhood was safer because they were marking property with DNA. Perhaps they were referring to the SigNature Program from Applied DNA Sciences.

Applied DNA Sciences uses DNA markers from botanical sources. They rearrange the markers into unique encrypted sequences then embed the DNA onto consumer products that need to be protected, including drug tablets and capsules, banknote threads, holograms, artwork, and collectibles. The company claims that the markers embedded in indelible SigNature DNA ink is safe to consume.

There are varying levels of product verification:

  • A SigNature DNA Encryption Pen can be used to detect the presence of their proprietary overt ink.
  • An instant reader can be used to detect DNA.
  • Portable PCR machines can produce “absolute authentication” in less than 30 minutes.
  • Forensic-level, authenticated PCR.

PCR DNA amplification is performed using specific primers that can only be synthesized if the unique encrypted DNA sequence is known.

Applied DNA Sciences states that false positives occur in less than 1 in 1 trillion cases and can authenticate at levels acceptable for forensic use. The SigNature Program is effective against counterfeiting, product diversion, piracy, fraud and identity theft.

NB: More about DNA marking of property in the UK at UK Crime Prevention.

HT: Trish

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Google Gulp Takes a Picture of Your Genetic Profile

by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei
Posted December 28, 2007 in DNA Products


orange google gulp Too much salty food this holiday season has made me perpetually thirsty. When I typed [thirst quenching drink] into Google, the first result I got was one for ‘Google Gulp (BETA)™ with Auto-Drink™ (LIMITED RELEASE), a line of "smart drinks" designed to maximize your surfing efficiency by making you more intelligent, and less thirsty.’

Think a DNA scanner embedded in the lip of your bottle reading all 3 gigabytes of your base pair genetic data in a fraction of a second, fine-tuning your individual hormonal cocktail in real time using our patented Auto-Drink™ technology, and slamming a truckload of electrolytic neurotransmitter smart-drug stimulants past the blood-brain barrier to achieve maximum optimization of your soon-to-be-grateful cerebral cortex.

Sounds like the perfect drink! The only way you can get a bottle of Google Gulp is by turning in a Gulp cap to any local retailer. Looks like I’ll have to hit up my sister for one. ;)

(>> Start a discussion!)


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