TEDMED: 23andMe has 30,000 "active" genomes, launching "Relative Finder" soon

By Brian Dolan
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At the TEDMED event here in San Diego this week, personal genomics company 23andMe co-founder Anne Wojcicki announced that the company now had more than 30,000 "active" genomes in its database and that it would soon launch a "Relative Finder" service for its users.

As part of the new service, users can explore connections to other users of the site to determine how related they are to each other. 23andMe is offering free genotyping for TEDMED attendees, so Wojcicki joked that this time next year we can all find out how related we are to each other.

Wojcicki also announced that 23andMe now has more than 30,000 "active" genomes in its database right now -- a figure the company has played close to the chest since its founding in 2006. About 70 percent of the site's users have filled out at least one survey that 23andMe uses to enrich its own research. "In less than two years, we have created one of the world's largest databases" for genomic databases in the world, Wojcicki said.

Another impressive metric that 23andMe mentioned at TEDMED: Since May of last year, in partnership with the Michael J. Fox Foundation, 23andMe has enrolled over 3.000 Parkinson's patients within one month. In December, 23andMe plans to announce some of the results from analyzing those Parkinson's patients' genomes. Wojcicki noted that timeframe makes it one of the quickest turn arounds for a clinical study.

Wojcicki said her husband recently found out that he was genetically predisposed to becoming a Parkinson's patient thanks to a 23andMe's analysis. Wojcicki said that just knowing about the increased likelihood has helped him to stay motivated to stay in shape, eat right and take better care of his health overall.

Earlier this year at the inaugural Consumer Genetics Show in Boston, we reported on and included the first photos of Illumina’s concept for an iPhone application, called myGenome, that included information from a person’s genome. Illumina told Apple that the completed app aims to “present complex genomic datasets in an easy-to-understand, consumer-oriented interface.”