Friday, December 15, 2017

Discovering My Genome

I just received my results from Genes For Good, a study conducted by the University of Michigan which enables you, upon completing a series of health questionnaires, to submit a sample of saliva for DNA analysis.

Upon signing up via their facebook app, I completed the various surveys both for medical history and daily activities and was eventually notified that I would receive a "spit kit" in the mail to collect a sample of my saliva. Thanks to a backlog it took several months, but the results were worth waiting for.

In addition to viewing a few simplified charts showing ancestry, you can opt to download your entire collection of raw genetic data in various formats, including Variant Call Format (VCF), a format compatible with the commercial DNA analysis service 23andMe among others.

The simplified data are interesting but I really wanted to break down the raw data to see the ins and outs of my genome based on current research. Unfortunately having no experience whatsoever in genome analysis I had no practical means to decipher the data.

Thanks to a blog post by Melanie Avalon I discovered Promethease, a site which lets you upload your raw genetic data and after a few minutes' processing lets you download a dynamic HTML file you can use to drill down into and search your genetic information. The resulting file correlates occurrences of specific genetic markers in your genome with data revealed by numerous studies in the wiki SNPedia regarding disease, nutritional deficiencies, drug response, and many other factors.

Here for example I found an interesting bit of info on my body's inability to respond to specific antidepressants. This made sense; one of the listed drugs (Effexor) I'd tried taking a few years ago but found if anything it made my depression symptoms worse. Apparently my genes make it some 7 times less likely for the drug to work!

Promethease is running a special the rest of December where you can upload and have your genetic data processed for free from Genes For Good or other sources, so if you've gotten your results I'd recommend trying it out before their holiday cheer expires and they begin charging their nominal fees of up to $10 per report again.