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Neanderthals may be an ancient species, but their genetics continue to surprise us to this day.

For instance, new research published last month in Science Advances shows that Neanderthal DNA has a longer, more consistent history than previously realized. By comparing the genetic material of two 120,000-year old Neanderthals with specimens from just 40,000 years ago, scientists identified surprising similarities that spanned the 80,000-year gap.

And that’s just one of the discoveries that have us endlessly fascinated!

Consider the following:

Our Common Ancestor

The story of modern humans and Neanderthals actually starts together since scientists believe we hail from a common ancestor, Homo heidelbergensis. This species inhabited much of Africa, Europe and probably Asia from at least 700,000 years ago until about 200,000 years ago. And it was only at that point that the European branch of Homo heidelbergensis had evolved into a genetically distinct species — Homo neanderthalensis, also known as Neanderthals.

Not Just a Caveman

While popular culture depicts Neanderthals as primitive creatures, they were probably a lot like us. For instance, the earliest European art — Spanish cave paintings of animals and geometric shapes — dates from more than 20,000 years before the first modern humans arrived in Europe. And Neanderthal remains found throughout Europe suggest diets that evolved to match their surroundings. In what is now modern Spain they ate from pine nuts and moss, but mostly ate reindeer and mushrooms in the region of Europe that is now Belgium. 

A Neanderthal Human reUnion

Our stories come together again about 60,000 years ago. That’s when modern

Manot Cave

humans, having evolved in Africa, start to explore beyond the continent. And skeletal remains found in the Manot Cave in Israel and elsewhere suggest that modern humans and Neanderthals began to interbreed. Thus linking our genetics.

The Last Neanderthal

Neanderthals became extinct about 40,000 years ago. But the reason for their disappearance remains a mystery. Some researchers blame climate change or exposure to unfamiliar human diseases. Others point to a decline in fertility rates in Neanderthal communities. While there may be some truth to each of these hypotheses, the disappearance of Neanderthals may also have come down to pure numbers. If there were more humans than Neanderthals 40,000 years ago, the latter may have simply been absorbed into the former.

Neanderthals, Unearthed

The first Neanderthal remains were discovered in the Neander Valley in Germany in 1856. However, it wasn’t until 30 years later that scientists realized the skeleton wasn’t just a modern human with bone deformities but a whole new species. Since then, archeologists and others have discovered the bones of more than 400 Neanderthals from Wales to Israel to Uzbekistan.

Our Neanderthal Inheritance

As a result of interbreeding between Neanderthals and modern humans, over 40 percent of the Neanderthal genome lives on today in our gene pool. Non-African populations, in particular, carry that ancestry forward, sharing on average 1-2 percent of their DNA with Neanderthals. However, Sub-Saharan African populations have virtually no Neanderthal ancestry given that migratory paths of Neanderthals spanned from Europe to Western Asia.

Neanderthal Genes Today

While our Neanderthal heritage may be limited, it does have a handful of associations with our traits. For instance, Neanderthal genetic variants are associated with having straighter hair and with being less likely to sneeze after eating dark chocolate. And counter to the popular perception, Neanderthal variants are actually associated with having less back hair! Perhaps most intriguingly, some scientists believe that interbreeding with Neanderthals even provided modern humans with evolutionarily advantageous traits as they migrated into Europe.

How Neanderthal Are You?

If you’re just as intrigued by Neanderthals as we are, start by digging into your own shared ancestry

You can explore your Neanderthal Report here. And if you’re not yet a customer, you can find out more here.

The post Why 23andMe Loves Neanderthals, And You Should Too appeared first on 23andMe Blog.

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As we slip into another season of long sunny days and warm nights, a few of 23andMe’s trait reports might be particularly interesting for you this summer.

So if you’re warding off mosquitoes at your next BBQ, or catching a few rays at the beach, you might be curious what role your genetics plays in those moments. Here are a few insights you can glean from 23andMe’s trait reports.

Hair Photobleaching

Summertime often means a lot more time outdoors in the sun, and for some, that added exposure tends to lighten their hair. 23andMe Hair Photobleaching report looks at dozens of genetic variants influencing whether the sun will lighten your hair. For people of European ancestry, about 86 percent reported that their hair lightens when exposed to the sun.

 

Freckling

It is an oddity of nature that the sun lightens your hair but darkens some people’s skin. The exposure results in freckling in some people when the pigmentation in skin cells, melanin, is produced unevenly across a person’s skin. If more pigmentation is produced in some areas than in others, you get freckles. 23andMe’s Freckles report looks at 34 genetic variants and other factors to tell you if you are more or less likely to get freckles.

 

Ice Cream Flavor Preference

Not that you need a reason to indulge in a frozen treat on a hot summer day, but if you’re looking for one 23andMe new Ice Cream Flavor Preference report will give you the scoop on what your genetics says about whether you’re more likely to choose vanilla ice cream or chocolate. The report relied on a statistical model and data  more than a million 23andMe research participants to identify 739 genetic variants associated flavor preference. Sorry but there’s nothing in the report on whether you should put hot fudge on that ice cream.

 

Mosquito Bite Frequency

Along with all the sun and fun, summertime brings out the bugs. It turns out that, at least to mosquitos, we’re not equally enticing. 23andMe’s Mosquito Bite Frequency report can tell whether you’re more or less likely to get bitten by mosquitoes. Using data from about 400,000 23andMe research participants, we identified 285 genetic variants associated with mosquito bite frequency. The pesky insects are attracted to humans by specific molecules given off in body odor or breath. Depending on the mix of these molecules, some of us are just more attractive to mosquitoes than others.

 

Curious about your summer traits, check them out here.

Not yet a customer? Find out more about you can learn about yourself here.

 

 

 

The post 23andMe’s Traits of Summer appeared first on 23andMe Blog.

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A new 23andMe trait report gives you the scoop on the genetics behind your ice cream flavor preference, or at least whether you’re more likely to ask for vanilla or chocolate on top of your ice cream cone.

Several studies have shown that our taste preferences are in part explained by genetics. We wanted to know if we could find a genetic signal associated with ice cream flavor preference. It turns out we can.

You Scream, I Scream, We all Scream for Ice Cream

By using a statistical model and data from more than 980,000 23andMe research participants, our scientists were able to identify 739 genetic markers associated with preferring vanilla ice cream to chocolate. Pulling those genetic markers together with non-genetic factors — such as age and sex — we developed a model to estimate the likelihood of preferring vanilla ice cream to chocolate.

Obviously your ice cream flavor preference is influenced by far more than genetics — culture and environment for instance — but as with other types of food preferences, your genetics is the cherry on top. A person’s preference may be related to their sense of smell. Indeed many of the genetic variants we found associated with ice cream preference are in or near olfactory receptor genes, like OR10A6 and OR5M8. Those genes contain instructions for proteins that help detect odors. While you’re eating, your brain combines information from odors and your taste buds to perceive flavor.

23andMe Trait Reports

The new report is among more than 30 fun and interesting (and not so vanilla!) trait reports available to 23andMe Health + Ancestry Service customers. Among those reports are three others that specifically look at food traits, like a person’s preference for Salty v. Sweet snacks, or their aversion to Bitter Taste, or Cilantro. Your traits are determined by a complex interaction between your DNA, your environment and your lifestyle. Sometimes just a handful of genetic variants play a role, but more often hundreds or thousands of variants influence a trait.

Check out your Ice Cream Flavor Preference trait report here.

Not yet a customer? Find out all that 23andMe has to offer here.

The post 23andMe’s New Trait Report Puts a Cherry on Top of Your Ice Cream Preference appeared first on 23andMe Blog.

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23andMe has added a new Genetic Health Risk report* that looks at two genetic variants in the MUTYH gene (Y179C and G396D) associated with a hereditary colorectal cancer syndrome, MUTYH-associated polyposis (MAP). These two variants are most common and best studied in people of Northern European descent.

In January, 23andMe received FDA clearance to offer this information directly to consumers, and our team has been finalizing the report since then. 

There are many factors — diet, exercise, alcohol consumption, and smoking, for example — that can influence a person’s risk for colorectal cancer. In fact, the majority of cases are not caused by inherited genetic variants. But individuals with two genetic variants or two copies of a genetic variant included in this new report tend to develop colon and rectal polyps and have an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer, and may have a slightly increased risk for certain other cancers.

These two variants account for the majority — from 80 percent to 90 percent — of all MAP variants in people of Northern European descent. Between 1 and 2 percent of people of Northern European descent have one of these variants, which means that between 1 in 10,000 and 1 in 40,000 people of Northern European descent are expected to have MAP.

It’s important to note that more than 100 other variants in the MUTYH gene have been linked to MAP and this report only includes two of those variants. While this report is most relevant for people of Northern European ancestry, the two variants are also found in people of other ethnicities.

MAP

“People with MUTYH-associated polyposis (MAP) are at a much higher risk of developing colon and rectal cancers, and it often affects them when they are at younger ages,” said Anjee Davis, President, Fight Colorectal Cancer, a leading colorectal cancer patient advocacy group in the U.S. “However, for people who know that they have MAP, early detection and subsequent screening can be potentially lifesaving. The new 23andMe report is limited in that it only identifies people with MAP — and not other hereditary colorectal cancer syndromes, like Lynch syndrome — but it can be a positive first step for prevention for those who have the two associated variants. Additionally, because only a small percentage of colorectal cancer cases are attributed to a hereditary predisposition, it is important for all people to know the symptoms and be screened at the recommended age.”

Without appropriate surveillance, carrying both of these variants, or having two copies of one, increases the risk of developing colorectal cancer to between 43 and 100 percent. The risk in the general population is about 4.2 percent. 

 Health + Ancestry Service Customers

Eligible 23andMe Health + Ancestry Service customers have the option of viewing their MAP report. As with other Genetic Health Risk reports that are considered sensitive, eligible customers must first opt in to view the report. If they choose to opt in, they will then go through a short tutorial detailing information that is important to know before seeing their results.

23andMe is committed to ensuring that our customers understand not just what it may mean to carry a risk variant or variants, but also what it means not to have one of the variants covered in this report. Specifically that not having one of the variants — or a negative result — does not mean one is not at risk for developing colorectal cancer. Instead, the report highlights the fact that genetics is just one of many risk factors for colorectal cancer. More than a hundred genetic variants in the MUTYH gene are linked to MAP and thousands of variants in other genes are linked to other hereditary colorectal cancer syndromes. 

People with two variants or two copies of a variant included in the MAP report have a higher risk for colorectal cancer and the risk for people with one variant is still uncertain. Some studies suggest that people with one variant may have a slightly increased risk, particularly if they have a family history of colorectal cancer, but the evidence is limited at this point. 

If a person has a positive family history of colorectal cancer or a personal history of colorectal polyps, they should consider talking to a doctor for more screening information. Finally, the MAP report is not diagnostic, and is intended for adults only. Also it is not a substitute for visits to a healthcare professional for recommended screenings or appropriate follow-up. Any result should be confirmed in a clinical setting before taking any medical action.

Eligible customers can go to their Health Overview page if they wish to view their report. On that page, customers will be directed to update their report preferences and choose whether to opt in to receive the report. Not yet a 23andMe customer? Find out more here.

*For important information and limitations regarding each of our genetic health risk reports as well as our other health reports, visit 23andme.com/test-info.

The post 23andMe’s New MUTYH-Associated Polyposis Report Looks at Risk for Hereditary Colorectal Cancer Associated with MUTYH Variants appeared first on 23andMe Blog.

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The road to good health starts with a single step.

This week, 23andMe is helping you get started on that journey with the launch of a beta feature called My Health Action Plan. In it, you’ll find actions to take to be proactive about your health, personalized to your genetic results and survey answers.

My Health Action Plan is personalized based on your genetic Health Predispositions* and other personal information such as your age, gender, weight, ethnicity and responses to specific survey questions.

My Health Action Plan pulls your personal information together and then draws its recommendations from published clinical guidelines from the likes of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes for Health, the American Heart Association, and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. (You can see our white paper on the standards and methods for the health recommendations here.)

The Next Step

The tool, which will gradually become available to all 23andMe Health + Ancestry Service customers, is a direct result of what our customers have been asking for.

“We frequently hear from customers who turn to 23andMe for suggestions on what to do once they receive their 23andMe reports. The beta release of My Health Action Plan is part of a concerted effort to empower customers with actionable next steps to take control of their future health.” says Jessie Inchauspe, Product lead on the project.

The recommendations might include suggestions such as talking to your doctor or making specific diet changes, keeping up to date with your eye exam or colonoscopy schedules.

These recommendations are specific to a customer’s results, as well as age, ethnicity and gender. So, for example, if their genetic health risk report indicates an increased risk for Age-Related Macular Degeneration* (AMD), the customers might see recommendations like getting UVA and UVB blocking sunglasses or suggestions for an “eye-healthy diet.”

But along with those suggestions, the customer’s checklist might include a quick assessment to look at whether he or she has additional risk factors like family history for AMD or high blood pressure. It’s important to note that none of the recommendations should be used to replace a visit to a primary care physician.

But My Health Action Plan isn’t just for customers who have an increased genetic predisposition identified in a 23andMe report. It’s useful for all Health + Ancestry Service customers who all get a checklist of genetic-based recommendations and suggestions to help maintain good health at different stages in their life.

Over time, as we hear back from customers, we expect to make adjustments and improvements to My Health Action Plan, adding in new types of information and recommendations. But this beta release offers customers a chance to see personalized recommendations on what actions they can take next.

Personalize Health Recommendations

This initial release of My Health Action Plan is part of 23andMe’s continued push to create personalized health recommendations our customers can benefit from. Most recently, we collaborated with Lark Health, the leader in chronic disease prevention and management using AI, to offer a digital health coach app our customers could use to help them meet their health and weight loss goals. Before that, in 2017 we launched a first of its kind Genetic Weight Report that among other things, provided insight into which lifestyle factors might have the most significant impact on a person’s weight.

This push into personalized health recommendations is also core to our mission of empowering consumers by helping them access, understand, and benefit from the human genome. Customers benefit from having information they can use to be more proactive about their health.

We will be rolling out the My Health Action Plan beta to 23andMe Health + Ancestry Service customers at no additional cost over the coming weeks within the Health tab of their account. Not yet a customer? Find out more about 23andMe’s Health + Ancestry service here.

*The 23andMe PGS test health predisposition reports include both reports that meet US FDA requirements for genetic health risks and the 23andMe Type 2 Diabetes health predisposition report which is based on 23andMe research and has not been reviewed by the FDA. The test uses qualitative genotyping to detect select clinically relevant variants in the genomic DNA of adults from saliva for the purpose of reporting and interpreting genetic health risks. It is not intended to diagnose any disease. Your ethnicity may affect the relevance of each report and how your genetic health risk results are interpreted. Each genetic health risk report describes if a person has variants associated with a higher risk of developing a disease, but does not describe a person’s overall risk of developing the disease. The test is not intended to tell you anything about your current state of health, or to be used to make medical decisions, including whether or not you should take a medication, how much of a medication you should take, or determine any treatment. For important information and limitations regarding each genetic health risk report, visit 23andme.com/test-info/.

The post 23andMe’s My Health Action Plan appeared first on 23andMe Blog.

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An overwhelming majority of people with depression or bipolar disorder wants better treatment options and care, according to a first-of-its-kind survey by The Milken Institute.

The Milken Institute, one of two collaborators with 23andMe’s Depression and Bipolar Study, began the survey last year of more than 6,405 individuals who reported experiencing one or both of the conditions — about a third of those surveyed also are participants in 23andMe’s Depression and Bipolar Study. Among other things, the survey found that 89 percent of those with one or both of the conditions said there was a need for better treatments and care.

“Why aren’t there more options in treating depression?” one of the survey respondents asked. “Trial and error of creating the right cocktail of drugs should not be commonplace.”

Depression and Bipolar Study

The findings also support the basis of 23andMe’s Depression and Bipolar Study, which enrolled 25,000 participants diagnosed with depression or bipolar disorder and another 25,000 research participants who do not have the condition to study. Researchers are exploring the underlying genetics and other factors that contribute to developing depression and or bipolar disorder.  But the ultimate goal of the research is to improve the lives of people living with these conditions through better treatment options, a goal that aligns with those with the conditions who responded to the survey.

Along with the Milken Institute, 23andMe is collaborating with Lundbeck, a global pharmaceutical company tirelessly dedicated to restoring brain health, so every person can be their best. The researchers are still combing through the data for that study. At the same time, 23andMe continues to collaborate with other research institutions and universities looking at these conditions.

Most recently, 23andMe contributed data used in a genetic study by the University of Edinburgh published in the journal Nature Neuroscience earlier this year. That studyt found more than 200 genes associated with depression. Many of the strongest associations were in genes involved in neurotransmission and response to stimuli that are part of the central nervous system. The findings highlight the importance of studying cortical regions of the brain and their role in the condition, according to the researchers.

The Milken Survey

The intent of Milken Institute’s survey, conducted along with the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, was to learn more about the experience of those with depression or bipolar disorder or both. The group hopes to use those insights to prioritize the direction of research.

But the survey also offered some insight into the two conditions, indicating that more often than not, depression and bipolar go hand-in-hand. About 33 percent of those surveyed said they were diagnosed with both depression and bipolar disorder. Another 21 percent said they were diagnosed with one condition, but experienced symptoms of the other. For researchers, it suggests that the conditions fall across a spectrum and are not distinct, although they are often diagnosed that way.

Finally, the survey asked about the age when symptoms first appeared, and this revealed a potential gap in research. Almost 70 percent of those surveyed said their symptoms began in childhood, and more than a quarter said the symptoms started before the age of 12. The significance here is that many organizations that track the condition report onset in early adulthood, perhaps missing a key period of onset.

This new survey offers essential insights into the conditions, but it also is notable for focusing on the input of people with depression or bipolar disorder, or both.


The post People with Depression or Bipolar Disorder Want Better Treatment and Care appeared first on 23andMe Blog.

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Great workers make for great places to work, and at 23andMe, it all starts at the top with CEO and Co-Founder Anne Wojcicki.

This week Glassdoor, one of the world’s largest job and recruiting sites, made it official and named Anne among its 2019 Employees’ Choice Awards honoring Top CEOs, U.S. SMB. The award highlights leaders who employees love working with, and is unique because winners are selected based on reviews shared on Glassdoor by their employees.

Best Places to Work

It’s the second time in the last six months that 23andMe has been recognized by Glassdoor. Late last year, 23andMe was named as one of the Best Places to Work in 2019 on Glassdoor. Again, like the Top CEO award, that honor was based entirely on reviews from 23andMe employees. This makes these awards even more reputable because there is no self-nominating process. The Top CEO award is based on the opinion of those who know the workplace best, the employees.

“It’s an honor to recognize incredible leaders who, from their employees’ perspectives, exemplify exceptional vision, trust and communication. Glassdoor’s Top CEOs award continues to be more competitive every year,” said Christian Sutherland-Wong, Glassdoor president and chief operating officer. “I congratulate each leader on their achievement.”

Reviews

On Glassdoor’s site, employees can anonymously submit reviews about their company. When they submit a review they are asked to rate various factors about their employment experience, including their overall satisfaction, and other workplace attributes like senior management. As part of these ratings, employees are also asked to rate whether they approve, disapprove or are neutral about the job their CEO is doing. Among the approximately 900,000 companies reviewed on Glassdoor, the average CEO approval rating is 69 percent. Anne was ranked on this year’s list with a 97 percent approval rating from employees.

Check out the complete list of the Employees’ Choice Award for the Top CEOs in 2019 on the U.S. SMB list here: https://www.glassdoor.com/Award/Top-CEOs-at-SMBs-LST_KQ0,16.htm.

Interested in joining our gene pool? Learn more  here.

The post Glassdoor Names 23andMe’s Anne Wojcicki A Top CEO appeared first on 23andMe Blog.

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Kenneth Hillan, M.B., Ch.B. 23andMe’s Head of Therapeutics

We recently sat down with Kenneth Hillan, M.B., Ch.B. 23andMe’s Head of Therapeutics, to learn more about his journey, career, and vision for Therapeutics. Prior to coming to 23andMe Kenneth was CEO of Achaogen, Inc where he also served on the board of directors. Before that he spent 17 years at Genentech rising to the position of Senior Vice President and Head of Clinical Development and Product Development Strategy in Asia-Pacific for Roche in Shanghai, China. Originally from Scotland, Kenneth studied medicine and became a surgeon and pathologist before coming to the United States.

Tell us about your childhood.

I grew up in a pretty traditional family, for the west of Scotland, in a town called Renfrew, near Glasgow. I went to school at Glasgow University, where I studied Medicine. Student life in Scotland was a wee-bit different from what normally happens in the States. It was a great place to learn and make lasting friendships. I’ve always enjoyed the outdoors, and as a keen hiker, I probably spent more time walking the hills of Scotland than I did studying.

Glasgow University, Scotland

What did you want to be when you were a kid??

I always wanted to be a doctor, and it’s ultimately what I became, although that’s not exactly what I do now.

What eventually brought you to the US?

While you should listen to what people tell you, you shouldn’t always do what they say.

Earlier in my career, when I was thinking about coming to the States, my then boss, Roddy MacSween, said to me, “You definitely should not go to the States — you’ll be lost to British pathology.”

However, getting on a British Airways flight bound for SFO on July 31, 1994 turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made, as it opened my mind to all of the incredible possibilities created through the emerging science of biotechnology.

I planned to spend just two years in a lab at Genentech, working on a newly discovered gene, hepatocyte growth factor, that caused the liver to grow. It’s a remarkable protein, when you give it to animals, their liver doubles in size in just three days!

So, I thought I was going to Genentech to figure out how to cure patients with liver failure using hepatocyte growth factor and eventually to return to the UK; neither of those two things came to pass.

After my first two years was over, Genentech made me an offer to join research as a scientist. So, I decided to stay, which meant giving up a career in medicine and not going back to the UK.

What was the best career advice you received?

When I was training as a doctor in Glasgow, I wanted to be a surgeon but wasn’t really sure what kind of surgery I should pursue.

So, I asked my mentor, Harry Burns, what he would do if he were in my shoes. He said, “When I was at your stage, I would have explored going someplace else to learn new surgical techniques and to travel, as you have forty years of operating ahead of you.”

Harry helped me find a place, through his network, as a surgical research fellow at the Hôpital Saint Antoine in Paris, France, which was the biggest GI surgical center in Europe.

I spent a year in Paris doing half clinical and half research. I had the chance to learn French and to meet many interesting surgeons and researchers from all over the world and also started to develop an interest in liver disease, liver regeneration, and liver cell transplantation. It eventually became the bridge that took me to Genentech ten years later.

My advice to people is to surround yourself with people who encourage and support you to do things that are a little unconventional in areas in which you have conviction.

What do you like to do on the weekends?

Duncan and Kenneth at Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park

I live with my husband, Duncan, and our three cats. Two of our cats, Simba and Pluto, are very friendly. The other, Munchkin, is quite dysfunctional. He lives in the shadows and spends his time hiding from the human members of his family. So I guess, when all is said and done, it’s a pretty traditional San Francisco family!

What surprised you about 23andMe since joining?

The most surprising thing is the amount of data we have at 23andMe and our incredible data scientists who can transform that data into actionable information.

I love the fact that I can sit at my desk and ask a question in my mind, then with a click of a button, I can find out what genes might be associated with a condition or disease.

When I had lunch with Richard (Scheller, 23andMe’s Chief Scientific Officer) last November, he lured me in with data, specifically around the question, ‘are you a morning person or a night owl?’ I didn’t know the answer to what made someone a morning or night person, but Richard explained to me it had to do with the PER gene that controls circadian rhythm.

The fact you can ask our customers that question, and because of the size of the 23andMe customer database, you can find the gene that controls circadian rhythm – that blew me away! It took scientists 40 years to discover the gene that controls our body clock, and they won the Nobel prize for their work. And now at 23andMe we can find it with a click of a mouse!

What are you most excited about this year?

I joined because I’m excited about what 23andMe is doing. The ability to marry the consumer and research sides of the business, together with therapeutics, exists no place else on planet Earth. Leveraging our database and our knowledge of human genetics to select the best possible drug targets for a given disease is incredibly powerful.

We know that using genetics as a starting point in drug discovery approximately doubles the probability of creating a successful medicine, and selecting patients based on their personal genetics improves clinical outcomes. This is all part of our secret sauce and has never before been done on the scale that we are working on at 23andMe.

We have a really strong and committed Therapeutics team and are continuing to add new people and capabilities as we advance our pipeline.

23andMe’s Therapeutics team

The database continues to grow and scale, and with the GSK collaboration we continue to make new discoveries.

It’s our ability to advance a portfolio of programs at 23andMe that is so important, as even with the best science and scientists, some programs will still falter, for reasons like toxicity or an inability to create a molecule with all of the drug-like properties needed to treat patients.

23andMe has the potential to turn the future of healthcare on its head.

What is your vision for Therapeutics in the next five years?

The mission at 23andMe is all about helping people access, understand and benefit from the human genome. Therapeutics is one of the key ways we can help our customers to reach the full “benefit” from the human genome by successfully bringing targeted therapies based on human genetic data to them.

With products and patients selected based on a deep understanding of the genetic drivers of disease, we have a goal of delivering better patient outcomes and real value to the healthcare system. We are still on our way to realizing that vision and I feel extraordinarily privileged to be a part of what I know is going to be the incredible journey of getting from here to there.

Final thoughts about Therapeutics

Unlike our consumer business where we improve and refine our product every year and can react and respond to marketing data on a real time basis, in Therapeutics, it’s very different, it is a longer journey.

While the return on all of the work is potentially enormous, it occurs over five, six, or seven years. We need to understand that it takes time and while I wish we could move more quickly, we’re making real progress, and I’m confident it will be worthwhile.

The post Meet 23andMe’s Head of Therapeutics Kenneth Hillan appeared first on 23andMe Blog.

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It may not be the number one fear for people, but public speaking is in the top 100, just a few notches down from being attacked by sharks, and ahead of being afraid of spiders.

About a quarter of Americans report having a fear of public speaking, and it turns out that some of that fear can be attributed to genetics.


A new 23andMeTtrait report looks at a customer’s likelihood of having a fear of public speaking. Using a statistical model and data from more than 870,000 23andMe research participants, our scientists have identified more than 800 genetic markers associated with a fear of public speaking. Using those genetic markers together with non-genetic factors — such as age and sex — we developed a statistical model to estimate the likelihood of having a fear of public speaking.


Glossophobia

The new report is among more than 30 interesting Trait reports available to 23andMe Health + Ancestry Service customers. These reports — most recently we added reports on Bunions and Flat Feet, and have others on such things as Mosquito Bite Frequency and Fear of Heights — often spark curiosity and allow customers to explore more about the science and garner fun genetic insights of their own.


While a fear of public speaking, also known as glossophobia, doesn’t present any serious health consequences, it can hamper career advancement or your speech at your best friend’s wedding. And understanding the biology — which is linked to our natural fight or flight response — may offer insights into other anxiety related conditions. About 43 percent of 23andMe customers who are participating in research report to having a fear of public speaking. Fortunately there are plenty of ways to overcome a fear of public speaking.


Before their next Toastmaster mic check, 23andMe Health + Ancestry customers can check out  their new Fear of Public Speaking Report by going to their Traits dashboard. Not yet a customer? Head over here and learn more.

The post Fear Not Public Speaking: New Report appeared first on 23andMe Blog.

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While fatherhood is about more than just biology, looking at how DNA connects you with your birth father and seeing the traits you share can be illuminating, and for those who have never known their birth fathers before connecting for the first time, it can be transformative.

“It was like that missing piece was finally there,” Tyler told his local news station after meeting his birth father.

Like Tyler, we’ve heard from many customers who have connected with their birth fathers through 23andMe. As we gear up to celebrate Father’s Day, we wanted to share a few of those stories of customers preparing to celebrate their first Father’s Day with their newfound birth father. Last year we brought together sons and daughters who were celebrating their first Father’s Day with their birth fathers. Emotions are abound as the situations are often complicated, but many felt lucky to establish a relationship that wasn’t there before.

Tyler, 23, was fortunate to grow up with loving adoptive parents, and a supportive father. He always knew he was adopted, but he wanted to know more. Using 23andMe, he found an uncle who then connected him to his biological father, Jonathan who never knew about Tyler’s birth. His first emotion on discovering he had a child unbeknownst to himwas guilt that he hadn’t been there for his son.

“Nobody said a word, no one told me anything,” Jonathan said. “I had no idea at all. It was a little bit of shock. You don’t expect that and you feel like missed something or left somebody behind.”

But Jonathan, who has another son and a daughter, said he was relieved to learn from Tyler that his adoptive parents were so loving and supportive. And now he wants to make up for the lost time.

When Jaime Lee, a 38-year-old from upstate New York, found her birth father she told Syracuse Woman Magazine that he felt distraught he hadn’t been there for her growing up. He never knew of Jaime Lee’s birth. When they finally met and learned about her rough childhood, and the years of abuse she suffered, he was distraught.

“He just feels very sad because he never knew, and he knows what I went through and he feels that he could have helped,” she said.

After connecting on 23andMe, Jaime Lee traveled to Puerto Rico to meet him in person, spending 11 days there and getting to know him and her extended family, saying she “had the best time of my life.”

“We’ve already seen the similarities,” she said. “We have a lot of the same things, hands, feet, face. We look very much alike.”

Check out more stories like Tyler’s and Jaime’s by visiting 23andMe’s YouTube channel here. Happy Father’s Day from 23andMe.

The post More 23andMe Father’s Day Connections appeared first on 23andMe Blog.

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