Journalists Peter Aldhous and Michael Reilly write about using DNA obtained from a drinking glass and other sources to â€œhackâ€ someoneâ€™s genome.
In â€œSpecial investigation: How my genome was hacked,â€ the authors use a variety of consumer-available DNA services to prepare and amplify genomic DNA in order to send it away for analysis by deCODEme.Â They used deCODEme, it appears, because 23andMe and Navigenics use saliva collection, and â€œit would be hard to convert [the] amplified DNA sample into a form that closely mimicked saliva.â€Â They did use 23andMe, however, as a control.Â Interestingly, the cost of the entire process was about $1,700 for lab services (preparation and amplification) and $985 for deCODEmeâ€™s service.
From the article:
Intimate secrets hidden in your DNA could be stolen without you even realizing. By taking a glass from which you have drunk, a “genome hacker” could obtain a comprehensive scan of your genome, revealing DNA variants that help determine your susceptibility to a wide range of diseases, from a common form of blindness to Alzheimer’s disease.
This could, the authors argue, suggest that similar services could be used to obtain genetic information about anyone:
For people who are not politicians or celebrities, the most obvious threat comes from unscrupulous employers or insurers – and many countries have already restricted their use of genetic information. But private citizens may also have motives to pry into one another’s DNA. A newly engaged person might want to know whether their future spouse carries genes making them vulnerable to dementia, for example. Or a childless couple could simply wipe a dribbling baby’s mouth to investigate the child’s genetic heritage and traits before deciding whether to adopt.
They also go into the different interpretations they received from each company, but thereâ€™s nothing new there; by now we know that there are different ways to interpret genetic probabilities in the current stage of knowledge.
What are your thoughts?