The company has published a statement stating that it plans to use it only to predict which genes will have offspring from specific parents.
The basic service offered by 23andMe is to analyze the DNA code of a person and to inform him of such gene attributes as an increased risk of genetic disease.
The study costs $ 99 and involves analyzing genetic material from a saliva sample. The goal of 23andMe is to “democratize the genome” and raise public awareness of information in DNA. Each of the four hundred thousand customers who have so far benefited from this opportunity, in turn, answers a number of questions that allow for the development of the link between different genes.
The company’s first patent, granted last year, involved a test for the gene associated with Parkinson’s disease. He called out the objection because he was afraid that 23andMe would gain a monopoly on carrying out this test. “There is a tension between their assurance of openness and the corporate need to find new generations of revenue,” said Stuart Hogarth of King’s College in London.
The new patent, published in the United States on September 24, includes a genetic code analysis method that enables two clients to calculate the probability that their child will inherit specific traits.
For now, only six features can be tested: what color will be of comfort, whether it will have soft or hard wax, how bitter it will taste, whether the child’s muscles will be better suited for sprinting or endurance training, will tolerate lactose and Will it blush after drinking alcohol? The company’s management has stated in a special statement that it will not use its patent outside of this application.
“It’s just part of the joy of waiting for a baby,” said 23andMe Donald Cutler. In the patent, however, the method is described as a way of “selecting a gamete donor”, which will make it possible to consciously select donors of semen or ova, which theoretically allows the genetic planning of the offspring.
This record worries those who deal with ethics in science. Michael Sander of Harvard University underlines that how much the probability of a genetic disease is likely to be calculated, the selection of other offspring is dangerously close to eugenics, which simply means genetic design of the offspring.