Apparently people are willing to spend a good chunk of money to see their DNA run on a gel, imaged, blown up, and hung on the wall.
The only DNA gel pictures I ever hung up where the “Hall of Shame” type where something went horribly, comically wrong. And, I only hung those above my bench in lab as a grim reminder of time wasted, never on my living room wall.
What strikes me as quite funny is that as a TA for MOL101 back in grad school, we actually had students collect buccal cells (cheek cells), run a PCR reaction, do restriction enzyme digest on the product, and run it all on gels (we also had it sequenced). The goal was to determine if they were PTC (phenylthiocarbamide) tasters. They ran gels and looked at their DNA digested by the restriction enzymes as well as the DNA we had sequenced from their PCR reactions, and correlated it with whether or not they could taste PTC. [For more info on PTC tasting, see here. For a description of the lab, see here.] Other than the university charging students tens of thousands of dollars to matriculate, getting the picture of the DNA on the gel was ‘free.’
I could see the appeal of 23 and Me, where you actually get some data, bona fide genetic information, and an interface that lets you learn about it, but $199 for just a picture? I’ll swab my own cheek, thankyouverymuch.
Would you pay for this type thing? Should I start a side business?