World Economic Forum / 23andMe

Happy Leap Day. Here’s my question. If you’re born on this day, does that mean you actually add one year of age only during a leap year. If so, sign me up. I would like to slow down the aging process any way I can.

One way in which we might be able to slow the aging process is by learning more about our own DNA. Now you can through a company called 23andMe. I learned about them when I attended the World Economic Forum last month. 23andMe is a personal genetics company that analyzes a person’s DNA that is taken from a spit sample. This information can provide a lot of insight into one’s physical characteristics, personal attributes and even potential for disease. All the information is then turned over to the individual.

What makes this company interesting with regards to allergies is that it takes research out of the lab setting and makes it accessible to large groups of individuals. Say, for example, that I was interested in learning about any genetic similarities that my child had to 500 or 600 other children with food allergies. I could call FAAN and ask them to send out an email to their members to see if any parents were interested in having a profile done on their allergic child. They would then examine the DNA samples from those allergic kids to see if there were any genetic similarities. The one drawback to this test is that it is expensive. It costs $1,000 a pop. To make it more affordable to families, one could always approach a company, like Campbell’s, a FAAN donor, to see whether they might be willing to underwrite some of those costs. It’s a very exciting prospect, but also one that an organization like FAAN would have to take on. And while I do believe that most food intolerances are caused by “leaky gut”, I’m not so sure about the allergies that cause anaphylactic shock.

My husband and I both left our spit samples with the “spit coach” in Davos, Switzerland, and we’re now awaiting those results. Initially, I wasn’t certain I wanted the information, but after learning more about the company, I realized the benefits.

The big debate surrounding this type of information is how to protect it from falling into the wrong hands, like insurance companies, for example. I’m sure we’ll be hearing lots more about this company in the months ahead.

Would love to hear your thoughts and comments.

To learn more about 23andMe, log on to

Best –

February 29, 2008

By the way, I’ve finally decided to set a schedule for posting entries. Look for new information each Friday. And, again, we value any and all comments.

Posted by Amy Wicker on February 29, 2008.

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