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23andMe is personal genomics and biotechnology company used, primarily, to help users find their personal genetic profile. Customers of 23andMe send their saliva to the company, who test the sample and return a genetic profile and information about the customer's ancestry.


23andMe was founded on April 27th, 2006 by Anne Wojcicki, Linda Avey and Paul Cusenza.[1]

The following year, the company launched its first consumer-based product for $999. Less than a year later, on September 9th, 2008, the company lowered the price to $399.

On March 12th, 2009, the company announced its Parkinson's disease research initiative.

On June 24th, 2010, the company makes several new genetic discoveries "for hair curl, asparagus anosmia, the photic sneeze reflex, and freckling."


The company operates by users sending a saliva sample to the company. 23andMe returns results six to eight weeks later. These results show the user a range of information about their ancestry, particularly which reigions of the world their ancestors came from and more specific percentage of what ethnicity they are.


In 2008, the company's consumer-based test was Time magazine's Invention of the Year. In their designation of the honor, Time[2] wrote:

"We are at the beginning of a personal-genomics revolution that will transform not only how we take care of ourselves but also what we mean by personal information. In the past, only élite researchers had access to their genetic fingerprints, but now personal genotyping is available to anyone who orders the service online and mails in a spit sample. Not everything about how this information will be used is clear yet -- 23andMe has stirred up debate about issues ranging from how meaningful the results are to how to prevent genetic discrimination -- but the curtain has been pulled back, and it can never be closed again. And so for pioneering retail genomics, 23andMe's DNA-testing service is Time's 2008 Invention of the Year."

In April 2017, the company surpasses 2 million geneotyped customers.

Deal With GlaxoSmithKline

On July 25th, 2018, the British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) signed an agreement to buy a $300 million stake in 23andMe, beginning a four year-collaboration.[6][7] The purchase would give the pharmaceutical exclusive access to 23andMe's DNA database. In the press release, GSK said, "The goal of the collaboration is to gather insights and discover novel drug targets driving disease progression and develop therapies for serious unmet medical needs based on those discoveries."

GlaxoSmithKline's Chief Scientific Officer and president of research and development said, "We are excited about this unique collaboration as we know that drug targets with genetic validation have a significantly higher chance of ultimately demonstrating benefit for patients and becoming medicines."

Anne Wojcicki, 23andMe's CEO and Co-Founder, said, "This collaboration will enable us to deliver on what many customers have been asking for -- cures or treatments for diseases. By leveraging the genetic and phenotypic information provided by consenting 23andMe customers and combining it with GSK’s incredible expertise and resources in drug discovery, we believe we can more quickly make treating and curing diseases a reality."

Some raised criticisms about the sale, particularly in regards to the security of the data as well as whether 23andMe customers knew that their DNA would be used for private profit.[8] Peter Pitts, president of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, said, "If people are concerned about their social security numbers being stolen, they should be concerned about their genetic information being misused. This information is never 100% safe. The risk is magnified when one organization shares it with a second organization. When information moves from one place to another, there’s always a chance for it to be intercepted by unintended third parties."

The head of the division of medical ethics at the New York University School of Medicine, Dr. Arthur Caplan, said, "A lot of people paid money to 23andMe to get their ancestry determined -- fun, recreational stuff. Even though they may have signed a thing saying, ‘I’m okay if you use this information for medical research,’ I’m not sure they understood what that really meant. I’m not sure they understood that it meant, ‘Yes, we’ll go to Glaxo, and that’s where we’re really going to make a lot of money off of you.'"

Online, people criticized the sale, for many of the same reasons outlined by health and ethics officials (examples below).

Sorry 23andMe but opt-out isn't informed consent. Meanwhile GDPR protects genetic data by specifically defining it as personal data. Recital 34. NBC News Φ @NBCNews Home DNA test results from the 5 million customers of 23andMe will now be used by drug giant GlaxoSmithKline to design new drugs, the two companies announce. nbcnews.to/2NHfJKT 23 and Me sold all their DNA data to a big pharm company, and they're spinning it as a solution to healthcare. Just in case you've never read a dystopian science fiction novel and were waiting for one to be made out of you. i wanna do 23 and me to be able to visualize my ancestry but ! i'm afraid the government is gonna like sell my dna to elon musk or smth

A 23andMe spokesperson responded to the criticism:

When a 23andMe customer consents to participate in research, we clearly state that their de-identified data may be used to identify potential areas or targets for therapeutics development and to conduct or support the development of drugs, diagnostics or devices and may be done so in collaboration with third parties. Participating in 23andMe research is always voluntary and requires customers to affirmatively consent to participate. They can also choose to opt-out of our research at any time.

On July 31st, 23andMe announced an updated consumer privacy guidelines.[9][10] According to the outline, the companies will get "express consent" from consumers, who will have access to "access, correct, or delete their data, as well as a ban on sharing data with law enforcement agencies, insurance companies and employers without consent."

23andMe Results Parodies

As 23andMe grew in popularity, people began sharing their results online. On April 25th, comedian Mike Drucker tweeted [3] a parody of the results page. His genetic tests returned results that read, for example, "Historically Blamed for Everything 46.4%," "Snow goblin. -5 against fire 18.3%," and more. The post (shown below) received more than 80 retweets and 820 likes in one week.

Mike Drucker @MikeDrucker Don't love my 23andMe results. MD Michael Drucker 100% Parents Could've Tried Harder 100% Historically blamed for everything 464% Snow goblin. 18.3% 5 against fire. . "Hoo boy, well, I mean, our family 4.9% left this part before everything went wrong, well, not your Uncle..." 4.8% Juuu ust enough to be insufferable on St. Patrick's Day Clogs 3.7%

Several days later, Twitter[4] user @PeterKelly25 tweeted a parody results page featuring the lyrics to the Meredith Brooks song "Bitch." The post (shown below, left) received more than 11,000 retweets and 48,000 likes in three days.

Over the next few days, people continued to share fake results for humorous effect (examples below, center and right).

On May 1st, 2018, Mashable [5] published a report on the emergence of the "memes":memes/memes/.

I got my 23andMe results back Ancestry Composition 31% 9.2% 17% 11% 10.1% 21.7% O Bitch Lover ● Child ● Mother Sinner Saint Emmy Blotnick Ф @emmyblotnick I just got my 23andMe results back and guys... Ithink I might be jewish EB Emmy 100% 100% 99.5% 0.5% European Ashkenazi Jewish Broadly European clio @cliomiso Follow andrew cuomo's 23andMe results Ancestry Composition New Yorker 31% 9.2% 17% 11% 10.1% 21.7% Muslim ● Jewish . Black Gay ·Woman Trying to Control Her Health

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Top Comments


See they've agreed to not do anything strange with your DNA, but I'm pretty sure the people they'll sell the information to don't have that covered. You could reach another point like the government sponsored sterilization program like they did with Native Americans but based on DNA instead.

I think a way this could play out is with cancer since it's regarded as a genetic disease and with how misleading a lot of cancer indicators are. Like how bacon is in the same category as cigarettes, but the categories are based on evidence not how severe or in what dosage they cause cancer. you could easily have a "cancer risk" index set up based on bad statistics from official sources that would put something that causes benign moles in the same category as some of the nastier bone cancers. Take that and a database of your genetics(again cancer is considered to be a genetic disease these days) and you can get some creepy eugenics going on.


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