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instantgeneticcomparison

Compare your genome with someone you meet - instantly
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As we get to the point where people are having there genome sequenced individually and scanned for diseases, it makes sense to compare your characteristics with people you are about to get more than friendly with.

Now this needs to be fast and easy - so the idea is if you both have your sequence done then you sign onto a site (via your mobile say) and each person provides a mutual (short time) grant to compare your genome with the other person. The system recognises when both have agreed and you are presented with a list of interesting things. If you are both carriers for something nasty then it tells you there and then that there's a high chance that any offspring are likely to have a particular problem.

(The idea came as a consequence of a question in the dal.net #science channel - about how much would you tell someone else about your genome)

penguin42, May 17 2009

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       That's doable and has some nice properties - your prospective partner isn't going to be told about vulnerabilities they don't themselves share.   

       It's a little weird to be making an early stage of what is, after all, a huge life-changing event "fast and easy" - but I guess this is more at the level of checking someone out; something you'll do a lot of before finally picking a partner.   

       [editorial: If you use spaces in idea names, they're a little easier to read.]
jutta, May 17 2009
  

       It would be interesting if you could extend the service to produce a picture of what the offspring might look like. A bit like those daft sites that merge the photographs of two celebreties to ask, what if? . . .
skegger, May 17 2009
  

       Good idea.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 17 2009
  

       It's a good idea, but it's pretty obvious. I don't see anything new here. It is done to the extent that it is possible already. As it becomes easier, more will be done, more quickly.
Loris, May 17 2009
  

       I don't like this at all.... it has the whiff of eugenics.
xenzag, May 17 2009
  

       // it has the whiff of eugenics.// Bollocks. Eugenics (in the sense you mean) is the enforcement of restrictions or encouragements to reproduction by someone else. The point of this idea is that the individual can make the choice.   

       If I were heterozygous for cystic fibrosis, and my partner were also, I'd want to know. At least then we can make an intelligent decision, be it adoption, early diagnosis or whatever we choose.   

       The fact that you can use information to do bad things doesn't make information bad.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 17 2009
  

       This device might help redress the imbalance caused by the dysgenic effects of alcohol . . . well, maybe not.
skegger, May 17 2009
  

       The more we try to weed out the human genome, the more we'll find out that the weeds are there for a reason.   

       //Eugenics (in the sense you mean) is the enforcement of restrictions or encouragements to reproduction by someone else.// - Well, thanks for telling me what I meant. I'm much clearer now. This is the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary definition of Eugenics: a science that deals with the improvement (as by control of human mating) of hereditary qualities of a race or breed.   

       You don't see the dangers in the idea, but that doesn't alter the fact that I can.
xenzag, May 18 2009
  

       I think this is similar to how the screening for Jewish genetic diseases works in some orthodox communities (certainly in New York). There are certain genetic diseases carried in the orthodox Jewish population, so if you're Jewish and want to marry another orthodox Jew then you submit your two anonymous numbers to this organisation which links you both with the DNA samples you gave as children, and they will tell you if marriage is a good idea or not.
hippo, May 18 2009
  

       So you can now see the probability of having a healthy baby with someone you meet ... wow.   

       Apart from this being the lamest pick-up line ever : 'can i have you number? - No, not your phone number your gen_com number - cause, you see, you're hot!' - the real question is whether we as a species can afford to be so stone-agey as to have a relationship with the prime goal of producing offspring with half of every partners' genome, there are gene banks, after all.   

       As to Eugenics: After the warped Nazi attempt at it, the word was so soiled it can barely be used anymore. While many people are still working on it, and many eugenic laws are in existence (ban on siblings marrying, for instance) nobody dares call it such.
loonquawl, May 18 2009
  

       //You don't see the dangers in the idea, but that doesn't alter the fact that I can.// Apologies, I hadn't meant to tell you what you meant, merely to clarify the context in which I think you meant it.   

       Yes, of course there are dangers, in almost any idea - ideas are dangerous things, which is why some societies try to avoid having them. However, there are benefits too, as in the case hippo cited. The trick is to balance the benefits and risks, rather than just saying that all knowledge is bad because it can be used badly.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 18 2009
  

       It's not eugenics, because that is defined as selective breeding of humans - typically preventing reproduction of those with undesirable traits. This isn't selective and doesn't prevent reproduction. Allele frequencies are not changed. It just enables reproduction with a minimum of genetic disease expression by those carrying deleterious recessive traits. As a geneticist I can tell you that everyone falls into that class.
But it's still not a new idea - it's basically the concept of genetic counseling.
  

       21 Quest: piss off and shag a corpse.
Loris, May 18 2009
  

       Almost anything can be exploited to create a divide between rich and poor, or the lucky and unlucky. The motor car and the computer both confer advantages on those that can afford them.   

       OK, look at it another way. If you wanted to pay a private company to look at the genetic profiles of you and a potential partner for whatever reason, good or bad (be it because you wanted to avoid certain recessive diseases, or because you wanted a tall child), and your government said "No, you are not allowed to know your own genetic profile, nor to share such information with anyone you choose to.", would you vote for them?
MaxwellBuchanan, May 18 2009
  

       Hey - you think I'm an elite scientist?   

       Semantics can be quite important. If a word doesn't mean what you use it for, you may well be misunderstood. I was once in a frustrating discussion where someone used the word 'cell' assuming it covered 'virus'.   

       Your point about economic disparity is interesting. This is probably less of an issue in the UK than the USA and other areas without national healthcare. In the worst case, rich people would have fewer children exhibiting serious genetic diseases than usual - everyone else would go on as before.
There is actually a related issue though. Some communities may be threatened by this in that they would lose new members. Deaf people for instance can build up culture around sign-language, and would probably regret its passing, if it were possible to prevent people being born deaf (or going deaf at an early age).
Loris, May 18 2009
  
      
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