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A man who spent 20 years behind bars after being wrongly convicted of rape and murder, making him the first wrongfully convicted person cleared of a crime through the use of investigative genealogy. Now experts in this emerging field say the technique could be used to exonerate others who may have also been wrongly convicted.

Details may be found in an article by Salvador Hernandez in the BuzzFeed News web site at: http://bit.ly/2xQh0jI.

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MyHeritage just refreshed all the data for the Theory of Family Relativity, a method by which the company identifies probable relatives of yours, often people you may never heard of previously. The announcement states:

“With this exciting update, you’ll get new and updated theories that explain how you and your DNA Matches may be related. This much-anticipated update may provide you with answers about relationships that have baffled you, as well as offer new insights about your ancestors and family relationships.

“The Theory of Family Relativity scans billions of family tree profiles and historical records to craft detailed theories of how DNA Matches on MyHeritage may be related to each other. Since launching the feature in February, our DNA database has grown significantly, the number of family trees on MyHeritage has reached 45 million, existing trees have grown, and more historical records have been added to SuperSearch.

“A new notification system has been created to update MyHeritage users about new theories as they are discovered, one theory at a time. This email will be sent periodically, as of this week.

“We hope that MyHeritage DNA users will enjoy the current update, which has more than doubled the number of theories available.

“Read more about this update and some key facts and figures in the blog post.”

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If you are unsure about all the facts surrounding DNA testing to prove the origins of your family tree, you need to read Sunny Morton’s interview of DNA expert Diahan Southard published in the LDS Living web site at: http://bit.ly/2Z8k0Uk.

It will be time well spent.

One comment: Read carefully section #2: How accurate are those ethnicity results?

“Ethnicity results are the most popular feature of DNA testing. However, they’re also the weakest part of the test, scientifically speaking. The good news is that ethnicity results are gradually getting more accurate and more specific. These changes sometimes cause confusion, though.”

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The following announcement was written by MyHeritage. You can also read more details and look at a number of additional images in the MyHeritage Blog at https://blog.myheritage.com/2019/05/introducing-the-myheritage-dna-health-ancestry-test/.

MyHeritage Expands to Health; Launches New DNA Test Offering Powerful and Personalized Health Insights for Consumers

The new MyHeritage DNA Health+Ancestry test provides comprehensive health reports for conditions affected by genetics including heart disease, breast cancer, type 2 diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease

TEL AVIV, Israel & LEHI, Utah—MyHeritage, the leading global service for family history and DNA testing, announced today a major expansion of its DNA product line with the launch of the MyHeritage DNA Health+Ancestry test. The test provides a new dimension of genetic insight with comprehensive health reports that can empower future health and lifestyle choices. It is a superset of the current MyHeritage DNA Ancestry-Only test, and includes its pillar features: a percentage breakdown of ethnic origins and matching to relatives through shared DNA. MyHeritage is now the only global consumer DNA company to offer an extensive health and ancestry product in over 40 languages.

The launch of the Health+Ancestry product distinguishes MyHeritage as the only major service that bridges consumers’ past, present, and future: MyHeritage’s integrated suite of products enable users to discover their family history and ethnic origins, find new relatives, and receive valuable insights to help manage choices regarding their health that may impact their future well-being.

“Our Health+Ancestry test is the next step in the evolution of MyHeritage. After 16 years of changing lives for the better through family history research and genetic genealogy, we are excited to expand our mission and try to improve and save lives as well. Our vision is to integrate our successful family history technologies with the new health product in innovative ways that bridge heritage and heredity to deliver deeper insights for our users,” said Gilad Japhet, founder and CEO of MyHeritage. “We are proud to be part of a movement to democratize healthcare globally and make genetic testing accessible to millions of people, and allow them to discover what makes them unique.”

The MyHeritage DNA Health+Ancestry test provides health reports that show users their risk of developing or carrying genetic conditions. Reports include conditions where specific genes contribute to the risk, such as hereditary breast cancer, late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, and late-onset Parkinson’s disease; conditions associated with multiple genes, such as heart disease, and type 2 diabetes; and carrier status reports on conditions that can be passed down from a couple to their children, such as Tay-Sachs disease and cystic fibrosis.

In total, MyHeritage’s Health+Ancestry test covers one of the most extensive ranges of conditions offered by an at-home DNA test: 11 Genetic Risk Reports, including a hereditary breast cancer (BRCA) report that tests 10 pathogenic variants; 3 Polygenic Risk Reports; and 15 Carrier Status Reports.

The World Health Organization identifies cardiovascular disease as the number one cause of death globally. This makes MyHeritage’s unique report for heart disease risk particularly beneficial. This report is based on a cutting-edge method called Polygenic Risk Score that examines hundreds, and in some cases thousands of variants across the entire genome.

In addition to heart disease, the Health+Ancestry product also includes a Polygenic Risk Score for type 2 diabetes, a condition that has significantly increased in prevalence in recent decades and now affects hundreds of millions of people worldwide and 40% of Americans within their lifetime. MyHeritage is also unique in providing a third Polygenic Risk Score for breast cancer, which delivers a risk assessment for breast cancer when none of the BRCA variants that MyHeritage tests for are found. MyHeritage is currently the only major home DNA testing company to offer Polygenic Risk Reports for multiple conditions, and more Polygenic Risk Reports will be added shortly after the product’s initial release. The three initial Polygenic Risk Reports support only populations with European ancestry, but the company has begun conducting research to allow the polygenic reports to cover a broader spectrum of populations in the future.

The new product is based on robust scientific research conducted by the MyHeritage science team led by MyHeritage’s Chief Science Officer, Dr. Yaniv Erlich. It has been in development for two years and leverages the company’s growing expertise in genomics. MyHeritage’s prowess in the field of consumer genetics has led to the growth of its DNA database to 3 million people in under two and a half years. To balance the needs of genetic genealogy and health testing, MyHeritage has custom-designed a new DNA chip using Illumina’s Global Screening Array (GSA). The new chip provides MyHeritage with the flexibility to add reports for more conditions, without the need for users to retest their DNA. Several new health reports are already in the pipeline for release over the coming months following the company’s rigorous validation processes.

MyHeritage DNA Health+Ancestry is a Laboratory Developed Test, processed in a CLIA certified and CAP accredited DNA lab in Texas. The at-home DNA test is an easy and painless cheek swab, and does not require spitting as some other tests do, which makes it more suitable and convenient for all populations, including older people.

Health reports only determine users’ genetic risk for the supported conditions. However, all users are required to complete a personal and family health history questionnaire, to ensure that each user receives the reports appropriate for them. MyHeritage works with PWNHealth, an independent physician network and genetic counseling service, to provide end-to-end physician oversight of the MyHeritage DNA Health+Ancestry test for all U.S. customers, which includes genetic counseling, if appropriate. PWNHealth’s physician oversight and genetic counseling fee is included in the total price.

Privacy is strictly enforced. All health data is protected by state-of-the-art encryption. Health report data is secured using additional password protection and is so secure that even MyHeritage employees cannot access it. MyHeritage has never licensed or sold user data, and has committed to never do so without obtaining explicit user consent. MyHeritage is the only consumer DNA company that has pledged to never sell data to insurance companies. It also applies a strict policy to prohibit use of its DNA services by law enforcement agencies.

The MyHeritage DNA Health+Ancestry kit is available at the price of $199 + shipping. Users who have already purchased a MyHeritage DNA test for ethnicity and genealogy matching can upgrade to receive health reports for $120. To order, visit the MyHeritage DNA website. An annual Health subscription is available as an optional add-on to the new DNA kit, which grants users access to new health reports as they are released. As a special benefit for the launch, the Health subscription is currently offered for free for the first twelve months and users can cancel it anytime.

The new health product is not intended to independently diagnose, prevent, or treat any disease or condition or tell users anything about their current state of health in the absence of medical and clinical information. The product is also not intended for making medical decisions, including prescription or dosing of medications. Users may need to obtain further services from their physician, a genetic counselor, or other healthcare provider, in order to obtain diagnostic results regarding the conditions or diseases indicated within the MyHeritage DNA health reports. The health reports provide genetic risk information based on assessment of specific genetic variants but do not report on users’ entire genetic profile. The health reports do not detect all genetic variants related to a given disease, and the absence of a variant tested does not rule out the presence of other genetic variants that may be related to the disease. For most diseases, currently known genes are only responsible for a portion of the overall risk. Other factors such as environment and lifestyle may affect the risk of developing a given disease and, depending on the condition, may be more relevant predictors. If a user’s data indicate that the user is not at elevated genetic risk for a disease or condition, this should not be interpreted as meaning that the user is safe from developing the disease or condition. The opposite is also true; if a user’s data indicates that the user is at an elevated genetic risk for a disease or condition, it does not mean that the user will definitively develop the disease or condition. Any findings within the health reports should be confirmed and supplemented by additional medical and clinical testing as recommended by the user’s healthcare provider.

MyHeritage DNA Health+Ancestry is available globally except in a few countries that do not allow health-related consumer genetic testing. In the USA, it is available in all states except New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island, where separate laboratory certifications are required and are currently being pursued. Altogether, MyHeritage DNA Health+Ancestry is now the genetic test for health available in the greatest number of languages and with the widest global reach.

About MyHeritage

MyHeritage is the leading global discovery platform for exploring family history, uncovering ethnic origins, finding new relatives, and gaining valuable health insights. With sophisticated matching technologies and billions of international historical records, MyHeritage empowers users to build their family trees and make exciting family connections. MyHeritage’s technologically advanced and affordable product, the MyHeritage DNA Ancestry-Only test, reveals ethnic origins and finds relatives with a simple cheek swab. Launched in 2016, MyHeritage DNA has become one of the world’s largest consumer DNA databases, with 3 million people. The new MyHeritage DNA Health+Ancestry test adds comprehensive health reports, some unique to MyHeritage. The test helps people understand how their genetics may affect their health so they can make informed choices to improve their future. As the world’s only integrated service that combines family history and DNA testing for genealogy and health, MyHeritage is uniquely positioned to offer users a meaningful discovery experience that unites their past, present, and future. Available in 42 languages, MyHeritage is home to 103 million registered users, 45 million family trees, and 9.7 billion historical records. MyHeritage is the most popular DNA test and family history service in Europe, and is the presenting partner of the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest. www.myheritage.com

 

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From an article by Megan Molteni in the Wired news web site:

“If you were early to the 23andMe spit party, you’ve probably noticed that you haven’t gotten any new reports about your genes from the company in a while. Not like more recent customers, whose inboxes receive the results of such analyses on the regular—like one with more specific ancestry estimates, which came out last year, or this one, for risk of type 2 diabetes, which arrived in March.”

And also:

“The more recently you spat into the tube and bought your 23andMe test—it was a best seller on Prime Day—the more up-to-date your test actually is. Which means, as many 23andMe users are finding out, being an early adopter doesn’t always pay off.”

You can read the full story at: http://bit.ly/2JKRa6b.

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MyHeritage today announced the MyHeritage DNA Health + Ancestry test, a major expansion of its DNA product line. The following is the announcement:

The new MyHeritage DNA Health + Ancestry test provides comprehensive health reports for conditions affected by genetics including heart disease, breast cancer, type 2 diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease

Tel Aviv, Israel & Lehi, Utah — MyHeritage, the leading global service for family history and DNA testing, announced today a major expansion of its DNA product line with the launch of the MyHeritage DNA Health + Ancestry test. The test provides a new dimension of genetic insight with comprehensive health reports that can empower future health and lifestyle choices. It is a superset of the current MyHeritage DNA Ancestry-Only test, and includes its pillar features: a percentage breakdown of ethnic origins and matching to relatives through shared DNA. MyHeritage is now the only global consumer DNA company to offer an extensive health and ancestry product in over 40 languages.

The launch of the Health + Ancestry product distinguishes MyHeritage as the only major service that bridges consumers’ past, present, and future: MyHeritage’s integrated suite of products enable users to discover their family history and ethnic origins, find new relatives, and receive valuable insights to help manage choices regarding their health that may impact their future well-being.

“Our Health + Ancestry test is the next step in the evolution of MyHeritage. After 16 years of changing lives for the better through family history research and genetic genealogy, we are excited to expand our mission and try to improve and save lives as well. Our vision is to integrate our successful family history technologies with the new health product in innovative ways that bridge heritage and heredity to deliver deeper insights for our users,” said Gilad Japhet, founder and CEO of MyHeritage. “We are proud to be part of a movement to democratize healthcare globally and make genetic testing accessible to millions of people, and allow them to discover what makes them unique.”

The MyHeritage DNA Health + Ancestry test provides health reports that show users their risk of developing or carrying genetic conditions. Reports include conditions where specific genes contribute to the risk, such as hereditary breast cancer, late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, and late-onset Parkinson’s disease; conditions associated with multiple genes, such as heart disease, and type 2 diabetes; and carrier status reports on conditions that can be passed down from a couple to their children, such as Tay-Sachs disease and cystic fibrosis.

In total, MyHeritage’s Health + Ancestry test covers one of the most extensive ranges of conditions offered by an at-home DNA test: 11 Genetic Risk Reports, including a hereditary breast cancer (BRCA) report that tests 10 pathogenic variants; 3 Polygenic Risk Reports; and 15 Carrier Status Reports.

The World Health Organization identifies cardiovascular disease as the number one cause of death globally. This makes MyHeritage’s unique report for heart disease risk particularly beneficial. This report is based on a cutting-edge method called Polygenic Risk Score that examines hundreds, and in some cases thousands of variants across the entire genome.

In addition to heart disease, the Health + Ancestry product also includes a Polygenic Risk Score for type 2 diabetes, a condition that has significantly increased in prevalence in recent decades and now affects hundreds of millions of people worldwide and 40% of Americans within their lifetime. MyHeritage is also unique in providing a third Polygenic Risk Score for breast cancer, which delivers a risk assessment for breast cancer when none of the BRCA variants that MyHeritage tests for are found. MyHeritage is currently the only major home DNA testing company to offer Polygenic Risk Reports for multiple conditions, and more Polygenic Risk Reports will be added shortly after the product’s initial release. The three initial Polygenic Risk Reports support only populations with European ancestry, but the company has begun conducting research to allow the polygenic reports to cover a broader spectrum of populations in the future.

The new product is based on robust scientific research conducted by the MyHeritage science team led by MyHeritage’s Chief Science Officer, Dr. Yaniv Erlich. It has been in development for two years and leverages the company’s growing expertise in genomics. MyHeritage’s prowess in the field of consumer genetics has led to the growth of its DNA database to 3 million people in under two and a half years. To balance the needs of genetic genealogy and health testing, MyHeritage has custom-designed a new DNA chip using Illumina’s Global Screening Array (GSA). The new chip provides MyHeritage with the flexibility to add reports for more conditions, without the need for users to retest their DNA. Several new health reports are already in the pipeline for release over the coming months following the company’s rigorous validation processes.

MyHeritage DNA Health + Ancestry is a Laboratory Developed Test, processed in a CLIA certified and CAP accredited DNA lab in Texas. The at-home DNA test is an easy and painless cheek swab, and does not require spitting as some other tests do, which makes it more suitable and convenient for all populations, including older people.

Health reports only determine users’ genetic risk for the supported conditions. However, all users are required to complete a personal and family health history questionnaire, to ensure that each user receives the reports appropriate for them. MyHeritage works with PWNHealth, an independent physician network and genetic counseling service, to provide end-to-end physician oversight of the MyHeritage DNA Health + Ancestry test for all U.S. customers, which includes genetic counseling, if appropriate. PWNHealth’s physician oversight and genetic counseling fee is included in the total price.

Privacy is strictly enforced. All health data is protected by state-of-the-art encryption. Health report data is secured using additional password protection and is so secure that even MyHeritage employees cannot access it. MyHeritage has never licensed or sold user data, and has committed to never do so without obtaining explicit user consent. MyHeritage is the only consumer DNA company that has pledged to never sell data to insurance companies. It also applies a strict policy to prohibit use of its DNA services by law enforcement agencies.

The MyHeritage DNA Health + Ancestry kit is available at the price of $199 + shipping. Users who have already purchased a MyHeritage DNA test for ethnicity and genealogy matching can upgrade to receive health reports for $120. To order, visit the MyHeritage DNA website. An annual Health subscription is available as an optional add-on to the new DNA kit, which grants users access to new health reports as they are released. As a special benefit for the launch, the Health subscription is currently offered for free for the first twelve months and users can cancel it anytime.

The new health product is not intended to independently diagnose, prevent, or treat any disease or condition or tell users anything about their current state of health in the absence of medical and clinical information. The product is also not intended for making medical decisions, including prescription or dosing of medications. Users may need to obtain further services from their physician, a genetic counselor, or other healthcare provider, in order to obtain diagnostic results regarding the conditions or diseases indicated within the MyHeritage DNA health reports. The health reports provide genetic risk information based on assessment of specific genetic variants but do not report on users’ entire genetic profile. The health reports do not detect all genetic variants related to a given disease, and the absence of a variant tested does not rule out the presence of other genetic variants that may be related to the disease. For most diseases, currently known genes are only responsible for a portion of the overall risk. Other factors such as environment and lifestyle may affect the risk of developing a given disease and, depending on the condition, may be more relevant predictors. If a user’s data indicate that the user is not at elevated genetic risk for a disease or condition, this should not be interpreted as meaning that the user is safe from developing the disease or condition. The opposite is also true; if a user’s data indicates that the user is at an elevated genetic risk for a disease or condition, it does not mean that the user will definitively develop the disease or condition. Any findings within the health reports should be confirmed and supplemented by additional medical and clinical testing as recommended by the user’s healthcare provider.

MyHeritage DNA Health + Ancestry is available globally except in a few countries that do not allow health-related consumer genetic testing. In the USA, it is available in all states except New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island, where separate laboratory certifications are required and are currently being pursued. Altogether, MyHeritage DNA Health + Ancestry is now the genetic test for health available in the greatest number of languages and with the widest global reach.

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According to an article by Christina Farr that has been published in the CNBC web site:

DNA-testing start-up 23andMe is experimenting with a new way to collect a lot more health data from millions of its users than just their DNA.

The company is now asking a subset of customers if they’d be willing to incorporate their lab results, prescription information and medical history, after they’ve received the results from the genetic test. 23andMe, which has sold about 10 million at-home DNA testing kits, will be able to access that data if users let the company connect outside medical providers using a third-party medical data network called Human API.

CNBC viewed the service in action earlier this week and the company confirmed that it’s a beta program that will be gradually rolled out to all users, but declined to comment further on its plans. The service is still being piloted, said a person familiar with the matter, and the product could change depending on how it’s received.

You can read the full article at: https://cnb.cx/2JuzD3g.

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From an article by Katherine M. Silverman, published in the Mondaq.com web site:

“The issue of genetic privacy is getting a lot of attention in the media lately, mainly due to the role DNA has played in identifying suspects in prominent “cold cases” like that of the Golden State Killer. But use of these “genetic genealogy” tools has raised concerns from privacy advocates who fear that genetic information shared on public genealogy databases could be misused. While “oversharing” personal information on social media has become par for the course, it’s important to think carefully about what information you’re publishing on the internet and who might have access to that information in the future.”

Also:

“While the idea of finding long-lost relatives is appealing, the privacy policies on many commercial genealogy websites allow these companies to share and monetize your genetic information without any obligation to notify you or obtain your consent. And while most of us would be willing to assist law enforcement officers in investigating a serious crime, the potential applications for this technology are only beginning to emerge. Many people don’t realize that by uploading their genetic information, they are exposing their relatives, including children and grandchildren to a loss of genetic privacy.”

The full article may be found at: http://bit.ly/2XCbnoD.

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From an article by Stephen Shankland in the C|Net web site:

“Computer storage technology has moved from wires with magnets to hard disks to 3D stacks of memory chips. But the next storage technology might use an approach as old as life on earth: DNA. Startup Catalog announced Friday it’s crammed all of the text of Wikipedia’s English-language version onto the same genetic molecules our own bodies use.

“It accomplished the feat with its first DNA writer, a machine that would fit easily in your house if you first got rid of your refrigerator, oven and some counter space. And although it’s not likely to push aside your phone’s flash memory chips anytime soon, the company believes it’s useful already to some customers who need to archive data.”

I find this article interesting from both a genealogy viewpoint (about DNA) and from a technology viewpoint (storing huge amounts of data in a tiny space). You can read the full article at https://cnet.co/2JhvUoi.

My thanks to newsletter reader Susan Matthews for telling me about this article.

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An “epidemic” of counterfeit products being sold online is duping millions, according to the Better Business Bureau.

One woman thought she was buying a real AncestryDNA kit online, a gift for her parents and her 100-year-old grandmother in Puerto Rico. She found the DNA-testing kits on a website called ZoooDeals.com. After she paid $200 on her debit card, her relatives actually received authentic-looking kits. They followed instructions, filling vials with saliva and mailing them. But when she called the company to check on results, Ancestry told her the vial numbers were already used to test someone else’s DNA.

You can read more in an article by Nina Pineda and Steve J. Livingstone in the WABC web site at: https://7ny.tv/2xi7Z2s.

Obviously, this rip-off was not caused by AncestryDNA. In fact, AncestryDNA is also a victim of this scam.

If you wish to purchase a DNA kit, I suggest you purchase the kit(s) directly from one or more of the companies that are performing the testing services, not from a “deals” web site you never heard of before.

The valid genealogy DNA testing web sites include: AncestryDNA, MyHeritage DNA, FamilyTreeDNA, 23andMe, LivingDNA, and FindMyPast DNA. All of these are reputable DNA testing companies that have been in the genealogy business for some number of years and have earned excellent reputations. You can trust their web sites to be fully legitimate.

Yes, there are other genealogy DNA testing companies but the above is a list of the more popular ones.

COMMENT: Just because you had your DNA tested by one company some time ago doesn’t mean that the test results are 100% accurate. All the DNA testing companies frequently update their databases of historical DNA. As the historical data is updated, test results often change to reflect the new data.

See my earlier articles at http://bit.ly/2DN6o8y and at http://bit.ly/2HxniKH for an explanation.

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