A tiny Sarasota company has technology that
can tell the color of the eyes of a decomposed
body,just from DNA. But it also has a way to
tell people who they are and where they came
ever given any thought to your ancestral background, a Sarasota
company now has a test you can take for about $320 that
will tell you just whats in those genes of yours.
Once you pay, all it really takes is a small swab rubbed
against the inside of your mouth, and that should be enough
DNA material to tell scientists and technicians where the
poking into DNA, scientists at DNAPrint can tell where
you came from, and also might help cure future ills.
science wonderful? Mark David Shriver, an assistant professor
of anthropology and genetics at Penn State University, thinks
so. Its also full of surprises. Shriver says he always
thought he was 100-percent Caucasian. Turns out he has 16-percent
African genes and 16-percent Native American in those Caucasian
genes of his. How does he know for sure? He took the DNAPrint
knew that my great-grandmother was from Mexico (Padilla
was her name), but never really thought much of it,
says Shriver. Her side of the family always put more
stock in the fact that my great grandfather was a first-generation
immigrant from the Basque country in Spain. As it turns
out, this side of the family has provided me with 16-percent
Native American ancestry. I also uncovered the fact that
I have 16-percent West African ancestry from another branch
of the family, my moms dad.
I had samples from several relatives I was able to track
where the different sources of non-European ancestry were
derived, Shriver says. There was no reason anyone
had to suspect that my grandfather would be partly African,
evidence is irrefutable. As far as I can tell, both of my
grandfathers parents are from a small town in Western
Pennsylvania. Given the Underground Railroad bringing enslaved
Africans to freedom ended in several of these towns, I expect
that some of these persons might be a source of this ancestry.
company that made it possible for Shriver to determine his
precise genetic ancestry is DNAPrint Genomics Inc. (NASDAQ:
DNAP), a Sarasota firm founded by Tony Frudakis, a doctor
of molecular and cell biology with degrees from the University
of California at Berkeley. The three-year-old company is
among the diverse array of more than 371 medical technology
firms operating in Central Florida. Though the medical technology
sector boasts such heavyweights as Baxter Healthcare, which
has more than 1,000 employees, it also includes smaller
companies like DNAPrint, which has 14 people on its staff.
DNAPrint is operating in one of the newest fields in medical
technology, pharmacogenomics, which makes use of DNA testing
for forensic and medical purposes as well as genealogy purposes.
Its primary focus is the forensic DNA market, doing tests
for enforcement and other organizations needing
them. The small company has its hopes pinned on capturing
a significant part of the current $1 billion dollar market
a market that Frudakis predicts will grow to $10
billion by the end of 2003. It also is hoping to catch a
following from consumers wanting to trace their genetic
roots, scientifically. The personal testing goes by the
name, AncestrybyDNA. This service has won the small company
plenty of national publicity, mainly because AncestrybyDNA
has been called a racial test in some news articles.
the genetic research company announced a new genome screening
process based on ancestral markers that has potential for
developing new drugs for diseases such as prostate cancer,
colon cancer, diabetes and hypertension. The new screening
process is called ADMIXMAP. One of the hurdles in producing
drugs to treat such diseases has been figuring out which
genes in our bodies are affected, or produce a curing effect.
The hunt for disease genes is very much like a treasure
hunt, Frudakis says. Except in this treasure
hunt, everyone is waiting
for a metal detector that is practical to use
a cheaper way to genotype. He believes DNAPrint
has developed such a detector with ADMIXMAP.
If so, DNAPrint would receive revenues from royalties (from
any drug or cure developed as a result), and from payments
to conduct the initial testing. at DNAPrint can tell where
you help cure future ills.