Sunday, November 15, 2009

23andMe to split Ancestry from Health

23andMe has been in a Beta of a new feature, Relative Finder, which will allow people to find links on their chromosomes that they share with other people who have tested at 23andMe. This has the potential to be of great use to genealogists who are limited in tracing their own DNA ancestry to Y DNA and mtDNA if a male, or to mtDNA if a female. While through the judicious selection of other relatives you can extend your Y DNA and mtDNA ancestry to other parts of your pedigree, it is not easy to do so.

With Relative Finder you can look at all of your chromosomes and use links found there to extend or verify your pedigree. I have already made one fairly definite connection and I have several others I am trying to verify. Many people were looking forward to using this new program once it was out of Beta. Now there is a problem.

23andMe has decided to split their service into three editions, an ancestry edition for $399; a health edition for $429, and a complete edition for $499. This pricing is exactly the opposite of what people expected. While some genealogists are interested enough to spend these sums on testing, my experience with Y DNA and mtDNA projects tells me the majority are not. 23andMe will need to make a very strong case about why a genealogist would want to purchase their service at this price.

One service currently available to all 23andMe testers is the ability to browse and download your complete genetic information, This can then be analysed by you or your proxy to obtain additional ancestry or health data. This will only be available to Complete Edition customers after 19 November. It will remain available to all current 23andMe users.

While there have been sales at the Holidays in the past, my recommendation would be to purchase the 23andMe test by 19 November to be sure you will get access to the ancestry, health, and genetic data.

See their announcement here:

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