DNA

Guide to DNA Testing: How to Identify Ancestors, Confirm Relationships, and Measure Ethnic Ancestry through DNA Testing

Richard Hill has released version 2 of his Guide to DNA Testing: How to Identify Ancestors, Confirm Relationships, and Measure Ethnic Ancestry through DNA Testing. The ebook is available as a Kindle book. It sells for the modest price of 99 cents (U.S.)

The Guide is a brief overview designed to help people (1) see the benefits of genetic genealogy and (2) take the right tests for their needs. By offering this to the huge Amazon audience, Richard hopes to get many more genealogists to take the leading tests. As these databases grow, we will all get more and better matches.

As described on Amazon:

23andMe and MyHeritage Announce Strategic Collaboration and Product Integration

The following announcement indicates a major partnership that will provide major enhancements to the services of both companies. 23andMe’s customers will be able to enjoy automated family history discoveries by using MyHeritage’s Smart Matching™ Record Matching services. MyHeritage customers will now be able to use matching DNA to explore their family tree connections.

You might want to watch the video below and then read the written announcement from MyHeritage (the sponsor of this newsletter) and 23andMe:

If your web browser does not display the video player above, you can also watch it at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1MefhlGTA8.

The following was written by MyHeritage and 23andMe:

Update: Was Jack the Ripper REALLY Identified through DNA? No!

On September 8, 2014, I published an article at http://goo.gl/qiOXlb about recent claims that Jack the Ripper had finally been identified by the use of DNA. I thought the “evidence” was much too flimsy to be believed. Now a group of scientists has published a report that agrees: the identity of notorious killer is still a mystery 126 years after string of murders.

Scientists have said evidence which claimed to have unmasked Jack the Ripper is wrong because a decimal point may have been put in the wrong place during calculations to match the killer’s DNA with his descendants. In fact, they say, the sequence he found could be shared by the majority of the population and therefore cannot be matched to Kosminski – one of the suspects in the string of murders which took place on London’s streets more than 100 years ago – or the Ripper’s victim.

Discovery of an Inherited Heart and Gut Disease

You can blame your ancestors again! I recently wrote (at http://goo.gl/JkpLDI) about an inherited disease called Oculopharyngeal Muscular Dystrophy (OPMD). It is passed down from generation to generation amongst French-Canadians and several other ethnic groups. The French-Canadians are unique in that the disease has been traced back to specific ancestors. Other ethnic groups that suffer from OPMD generally cannot identify the individuals in the family tree that passed the problem on hundreds of years ago.

Of course, many medical conditions are inherited and can be traced back to ancestral origins, even if not to specific individuals. One newly-discovered inherited medical condition can be traced back to Viking ancestors. Again, specific 17th-century ancestors who passed the problem on to their descendants have been identified.

23andMe Expands Into Canada

23andMe, is now offering health and ancestry information based on analysis of DNA to Canadians. Founded in 2006, the company provides home-based saliva-testing kits, which customers send in for genetic analysis.

23andMe will charge Canadian clients CDN$199 plus shipping for its personal genome service through 23andMe.ca, which the company says will help them to better understand their health and ancestry and “to possibly discover new relatives.”

Canadians will have access to 108 health-related reports that includes information on genetic risk factors for various health conditions, potential drug responses, genetic traits and inherited conditions.

It sounds to me as if 23andMe is offering not only genealogy-related testing but also is offering the medical testing that was stopped in the U.S. by the Food and Drug Administration. Obviously, there is no prohibition (so far) about offering the same service in other countries. The Canadians will benefit from having access to medical testing that is prohibited for Americans unless they get a doctor to order similar, but very expensive, tests for a patient.

Attention French-Canadian Descendants: Did You Inherit Oculopharyngeal Muscular Dystrophy?

Not only do genealogists have the opportunity to learn about their ancestors, but they can also learn about various inherited diseases. Some of these medical conditions could be life-threatening while others are merely an inconvenience. By studying inherited diseases floating around in your family, you may save or prolong your own life or the lives of your loved ones. By identifying the risks early in a person’s life, medical treatment often can be much more effective than the limited choices available after the medical condition becomes obvious.

I find it interesting that one French-Canadian couple in the 1600s who are the ancestors of millions of living people have tentatively been identified as carriers of a common form of muscular dystrophy. It became more than “interesting,” however, when I recognized the names of this couple as my ninth great-grandparents. Suddenly it wasn’t just “interesting;” it was personal!

If you have French-Canadian ancestry, now is the time to check your pedigree charts.

Follow-Up: Now it is Too Late to Transfer Your Y-DNA Information

On June 6, I wrote a brief article with the title of Now is the Time to Transfer Your Y-DNA and Autosomal DNA Information at http://goo.gl/MfL5fD. I wrote that:

“Ancestry.com™ announced that the company will no longer sell Y-DNA and mtDNA tests. Even worse, the results from past Y-DNA and mtDNA tests will no longer be available after September 5, 2014. Ancestry.com apparently will erase all of its customers’ Y-DNA and mtDNA test results. Anyone who has Y-DNA data stored on Ancestry.com probably will want to transfer that data to a different matching service, preferably well before September 5.”

It is no surprise that Ancestry.com has now completed what they announced they would do. An article by Roberta Estes at http://dna-explained.com/2014/10/02/ancestry-destroys-irreplaceable-dna-database states:

New Welsh DNA Project is Announced

A groundbreaking new DNA project is aimed at finding out, “Who are the Welsh exactly?” The ambitious scheme, launched last night at the Pierhead Building in Cardiff Bay, hopes to take DNA samples from thousands of individuals in order to trace Welsh lineage back over many thousands of years to find out where their ancestors first came from.

The brainchild of CymruDNA Wales — in an exclusive partnership with the Daily Post, the Western Mail, S4C and production company Greenbay Media — the project aims to delve, via a simple saliva sample, back way beyond written records to the end of the last ice age around 9,000 BC when colossal glacial shifts gouged the landscape of Wales and allowed the first immigrants to settle there.

With Genetic Testing, I Gave My Parents the Gift of Divorce

DNA testing can be a wonderful thing. It solves family mysteries, brings families closer together, and more. Sometimes…

A stem cell and reproductive biologist had his own DNA tested. After all, he is a DNA expert. He even teaches a college course about the genome. He recently gave DNA kits to both his mother and his father and was anxious to see the results. As he wrote, “I was very interested in confirming any susceptibility to cancers that I heard had run in my family, like colon cancer. I wanted to know if I had a genetic risk.”

He received a surprise, to say the least. It seems 23andme found a close relative, closer than anyone had expected.

Was Jack the Ripper REALLY Identified through DNA? I Doubt It.

The news services are full of stories claiming that Jack the Ripper has finally been identified through “proof” provided by DNA. The story claims that Jack the Ripper was really Aaron Kosminski, a Polish Jew whose family had emigrated to London to escape pogroms in the 19th Century.

However, a closer look at the story raises serious questions about the “proof.” The claimed “proof” is questionable at best. It may even be outright fraud although I hope not.

Is Genetic Genealogy the Next Facebook of Science?

Last Saturday morning at the first International Conference for Genetic Genealogy in Chevy Chase, Maryland, Genographic Project Director and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Dr. Spencer Wells delivered the Keynote to an audience of 300 genetic genealogists. He spoke about the popularity of the field and how fast consumer genetics has grown since the launch of The Genographic Project in 2005.

Could genetic genealogy become popular outside of the genealogy and medical communities? Perhaps. You can read a short article by Miguel Vilar about Saturday’s presentations in the National Geographic web site at http://goo.gl/qrCHWP.

Will Ancestry.com Add Family Health Info to Autosomal DNA Genetic Genealogy Service?

An article in the BioArray News, written by Justin Petrone, speculates that Ancestry.com may expand its genetic genealogy services to include family health-related information. A company spokesperson confirmed that the firm is in the “early stages of exploring family health history as a part of our company’s offering,” but declined to further elaborate.

You can read Justin Petrone’s article at http://goo.gl/baIkLy. (You will have to create a user name and password before you can read the article.)

AncestryDNA Matching Update Impacts Jewish Ancestry

The following is an extract from a new announcement posted on the Ancestry.com Blog:

AncestryDNA customers with significant Jewish ancestry have witnessed the challenges that we and other genetic genealogy testing companies have faced when predicting genetic relatives. Most Jewish customers find that we predict them to be related to nearly every other Jewish customer in the database! So while we all know that the cousin matches for Jewish and some Hispanic customers were over-estimates, detecting which cousin matches were real and which ones were bogus has always been a challenge for these populations.

Google’s New Baseline Study Wants to Map Your DNA

Google has begun a new project aiming to define what constitutes a healthy human being. The project, called Baseline Study, will collect “anonymous genetic and molecular information,” initially from 175 people but eventually thousands of others. The hope is that the Baseline Study will help researchers detect killers such as heart disease and cancer far earlier, pushing medicine more toward prevention rather than the treatment of illness. Google will use its computing power to analyze the info and find patterns, called biomarkers. The hope is that these biomarkers can be used to detect any disease a lot earlier.

This is a hugely ambitious project which could lead to better preventative measures enabling us all to live longer.

Announcing “How-To DNA” – A Multimedia How-To Guide for Genetic Genealogy

Blaine Bettinger is a genealogist and a DNA expert with a Ph.D. in biochemistry with a concentration in genetics. He is a frequent author and lecturer with a focus on DNA. He has now announced the creation of a new online how-to guide for genetic genealogy. The site will include short instructional how-to videos for beginners, as well as presentations and webcasts for the advanced genealogist.

Iceland’s DNA: The World’s Most Precious Genes?

City of Reykjavik, Iceland

BBC News has an interesting article by Emma Jane Kirby describing a quandary within the country. deCODE Genetics, an Icelandic company, is asking all residents to donate DNA samples. About one-third of the country’s residents have done so and many others plan to do so. However, a minority of the people are questioning the wisdom and the privacy issues involved.

Family Tree DNA Reaches a Historic Milestone: More than 1,000,000 DNA Tests Processed

The following announcement was written by the folks at Gene By Gene, Ltd.:

Family Tree DNA, the genetic genealogy arm of Gene by Gene, and the world leader in the field, announced today that it has processed over 1,000,000 DNA test kits results for genealogy and anthropology purposes.

This historic amount includes Family Tree DNA’s tests as well the processing of public participation samples for National Geographic’s Genographic Project (www.genographic.com). Family Tree DNA is the Genographic Project’s genetic testing partner.

Update: Ancestry.com to Drop MyFamily, MyCanvas, Genealogy.com, Mundia and the Y-DNA and mtDNA Tests

I wrote last week (at http://wp.me/p5Z3-lk) about Ancestry.com’s decision to cancel a number of products and services. The article generated a lot of readers’ comments that can be seen at the end of the article. Today, Ken Chahine of Ancestry.com published a response that explains some of the reasons why the company decided to terminate the Y-DNA and mtDNA products.

You can read Ken Chahine’s article at http://goo.gl/CkGt6F.

Are You Addicted to Coffee? Blame Your Ancestors!

If you absolutely cannot function without coffee, or find yourself putting bacon on everything you eat, those cravings could be genetic. Researchers at the University of Trieste, and the Burlo Garofolo Institute for Maternal and Child Health performed genome-wide association studies (GWAS) to locate the genes that cause us to prefer certain foods over others. The study found 17 genes that connect to liking certain food such as coffee, bacon, ice cream and dark chocolate.

These studies are all a part of nutrigenetics, which explore the effects between nutritional food and genetic information to find how it relates to ones health.

You can read more in an article by Carl Engelking in Discover Magazine at http://goo.gl/70puKb.

Family Tree DNA offers a Father’s Day Sale: Family Finder for $79 and Big Y for $595

Family Tree DNA is offering discounts on two of the company’s most popular products. Family Finder is an autosomal DNA test that automatically finds your relatives within 5 generations. It works by comparing your DNA to the DNA of other users in Family Tree DNA’s massive database. The Family Finder test is available for $79 (regular $99) until June 17th.

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