Eleven British scientists and an American genetics lawyer have decided to "unzip" themselves in front of the whole world. They're part of what they call the Genomes Unzipped project, which aims to demystify the genetic code, showing what it can and cannot reveal about individuals' health and, they hope, soothe the public's fears about DNA-based discrimination and privacy.
This "DNA dozen" will publish full results of their own genetic tests, including implications for their health. They hope to encourage many more people to share details of their genomes with researchers, creating an open-access DNA database. "We hope that by sharing our experiences and publishing our data, people will see the genome in a clearer light," Daniel MacArthur, a geneticist who is leading the project, tells The Australian newspaper. "We want to show that genetic information need not be frightening and that the risks of publishing data can be managed."
Over the last year, all the members of Genomes Unzipped have had scans performed by personal genomics company 23andMe. Several others have also had additional tests done by other genetic testing companies, including Counsyl, deCODEme. Right now, anybody can download the 23andMe data from everyone in the project.