MyCellf – The Science of You

Sciona, Inc., a Boulder, Colorado company that sells personalized genetic tests for lifestyle counseling based on an individual’s diet, exercise, lifestyle, and genetic screening, has recently launched the website MyCellf to explore the growing field of nutritional genomics.Nutrigenomics is the study of the interaction between genes and diet.

According to a recent press release, MyCellf is designed to:

“provide a balance between information, customer interaction and commerce for interested consumers and healthcare professionals. The company offers a unique non-medical, lifestyle counseling based on an individual’s diet, exercise and lifestyle history and a confidential genetic screening. By supplying this information direct to consumers through a detailed Action Plan, Sciona is able to guarantee complete privacy and confidentiality to the customer and total individual control of genetic information. The Sciona programs focus on lifestyle and nutritional adjustments to enhance health and longevity.”

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An Interview With Dr. Brian M. Kemp

I recently highlighted an article published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology entitled “Genetic analysis of early holocene skeletal remains from Alaska and its implications for the settlement of the America”.

I thought it might be interesting to ask one of the authors, Dr. Brian M. Kemp, his thoughts on the relationship between genetic genealogy and anthropological research, the future of Native American anthropology, and how he entered the field. Dr. Kemp, who is currently doing a post-doc at Vanderbilt University, was kind enough to share some of his valuable time.

Will genetic testing of the public through companies such as Family Tree DNA and Oxford Ancestors have any impact on the study of anthropology?

“Well, it certainly places anthropologists in an important position of helping the general public contextualize the results of such testing.Some of the major issues that have surfaced, and will continue to do so, from the recent fascination of genetic ancestry are those of race, evolution, and identity.These are topics of long-standing interest to anthropologists.It is my hope that the proliferation of genetic ancestry tests will cause the general public to become more interested in anthropology and human evolution in general.”

Is ancient DNA the best source of data for determining the spread of Native American populations into and throughout the Americas? What other sources of information might shed light on the topic?

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23andMe – A Biotech Startup Aimed at Helping People Manage and Understand Their Genetic Information

23andMe is a startup company in California that describes themselves as “an early startup developing tools and producing content to help people make sense of their genetic information.  Our goal is to take advantage of new genotyping technologies and help consumers explore their genetics, informed by cutting edge science.”

What are the goals of 23andMe? The website claims that a person’s personal genetic information “will provide personal insight into ancestry, genealogy and health. For society, the collection of genotypic and phenotypic information on a large scale will provide scientists with novel avenues for research. “It should also be noted that 23andMe has ‘strong financial backers” and is looking for “talented, motivated individuals in many areas who have a passion for health and technology.”

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Whoopi Goldberg’s DNA Testing Creates Ripples in Small African Nation

Whoopi Goldberg, like many others, is turning to DNA testing to learn more about her ancestry. Goldberg participated in the PBS program African American Lives which used DNA testing in conjunction with traditional genealogical research methods to elucidate the genealogy of famous African Americans (including, among others, Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey, and Dr. Mae Jamieson). The results of Goldberg’s mtDNA testing has revealed that her maternal line descends from the Papel and Bayote tribes who are found in the tiny West African Nation of Guinea-Bissau. Her admixture test suggested that her ancestry was 92% sub-Saharan African and 8% European.As with all DNA testing, Goldberg’s results only examined a small fraction of her actual ancestry.

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MITOMAP Publishes an Updated mtDNA Phylogenetic Tree

MITOMAP, the human mitochondrial genome database, has recently published a paper in Nucleic Acids Research (Free Full Text Here) announcing the completion of a full human mtDNA phylogenetic tree.

This tree, available here(pdf) was constructed from 2959 mtDNA coding region sequences (using the rCRS as the reference).In addition to listing mutations and the study that identified each particular sequence, the tree labels each mutation as a substitution mutation, a silent mutation, a tRNA or rRNA mutation, a mutation in the noncoding region, or a pathological mutation.MITOMAP also provides another valuable tool, tables of mtDNA polymorphisms with source information.

The tree will potentially be very useful to both researchers and genetic genealogists by providing a quick and easy way to characterize new sequences.Anyone interested in learning more about their haplogroup or how their haplogroup fits into the human mtDNA tree will find the new mtDNA phylogenetic tree extremely informative.

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New estimates for the arrival of the earliest Native Americans


Scientists have analyzed the mitochondrial and Y-chromosomal DNA from a 10,300-year-old human remains found in On Your Knees Cave on Prince of Wales Island in Alaska.These remains, the oldest human remains known from Alaska or Canada are from a young man in his early twenties.

DNA sequencing showed that the individual’s mitochondrial DNA belongs to an ancient subhaplogroup of haplogroup D that was brought to the Americas rather than mutating from haplogroup D once it arrived in the Americas.Interestingly, a sample of almost 3,500 Native Americans revealed that only 1.5% belonged to the same subhaplogroup of D (characterized by 16223T, 16342C, and 16241G).Those that did were found mostly along the Pacific coast of North and South America.

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