DNA on Sale: Familybuilder Introduces Low Cost Testing

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    NEWSLETTERS

    New York-based network Familybuilder has been growing quite handily over the past year and a half since it first launched as a Facebook application. As of late June this year, it had grown to encompass users on MySpace, Bebo, Hi5 and Orkut, and had reached over 16 million people. Now it claims north of 20 million or more.

    And as of October 15, it will do its users one better than simply connecting the profiles of relatives. It will begin to provide DNA tests to users who care for a deeper understanding of their ancestral tree. For just $59.95 per individual.

    While genetics startup 23andMe charges you $399 for detailed analysis, and Ancestry.com and FamilyTree run $149 at the least, and Genebase asks $119-238 of its users, Familybuilder is promising a significantly cheaper alternative. As with all other tests, Familybuilder conducts its samplings via mail, and assessments of both paternal and maternal dna (YDNA and mtDNA, respectively), are offered. (Each carries the flat $59.95 fee.)

    The YDNA process is said to be a 17-marker test, while the analysis of mtDNA pores over “420 base pairs of the HV1 region.” YDNA readings are for males only, while mtDNA are for both for male and female subjects. Are these figures thorough enough? May the biologists among you steer us right. The education you’ll receive is likely to be less complex than, say, what the 23andMe venture can deliver. But for the social networking classes of Facebook, MySpace and elsewhere, it’s likely to be adequate. Familybuilder notes that it makes available DNA markers, one’s haplogroup, and one’s migration map. It also provides an opt-in measure to have participants made aware of any matches within its database.

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