The is an update to an earlier article, read it here.

23andMe officially launched today, November 19, 2007 in Mountain View, CA. Although their business plans were not completely revealed, their pricing structure was. 23andMe will charge $999 for the use of their genomic analysis tools indefinitely. Friends and family can also sign up for a 15% discount (or “at cost” for their cost). This suggests that their margin is not very substantial.

In signing up, the user signs an agreement that allows 23andMe to use their genomes for “research” purposes and reads as follows:

23andMe Sponsored Research: We may analyze your genetic and other voluntarily contributed personal information as part of our scientific research with the purpose of advancing the field of genetics; your account information will never be associated with this research. We may also analyze your genetic and other contributed personal information for the purpose of reviewing and improving our services and creating new features and services. We may ask you questions and you may choose to give us information about yourself through surveys or other features on our website. Contributed personal information might include age, sex, geographic ancestry and diseases or conditions you have, or have experienced. It is entirely within your discretion to provide information or answer survey questions.

Collaborative Research: 23andMe may enter into partnerships with other organizations—non-profit and/or commercial—that conduct scientific research. Prior to embarking on any such projects, 23andMe will establish a research advisory committee to guide such collaborations. 23andMe may grant researchers associated with partner organizations access to our database of genetic and other contributed personal information after such organizations agree to maintain confidentiality consistent with our privacy policy. External researchers will have access to your genetic and other contributed personal information but they will not have access to your account information (e.g. contact and payment information).

During today’s webcast, founders, Linda Avery and Anne Wojcicki emphasized the academic pursuit of the genomic information. Others have suggested that 23andMe will sell their customer’s information to pharmaceutical and biotech companies as the main source of their income and which is the primary reason why they have not revealed their business plan to the general public.

The question, as suggested before: who is responsible for the use of one’s genetic material?

While 23andMe intends to turn their clients into a social networking group, they do face competition from similar service providers such as Navigenics and DeCode Genetics’ DecodeMe.

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