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    • An intensive DNA study led by 23andMe has revealed the impact that the African slave trade had on genetics. The findings of the study were published in the American Journal of Human Genetics

      Some of the key findings are that most African-Americans have roots in Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. There is also an over-representation of Nigerian ancestry in the United States and Latin America. Also, there are less who descend from Senegal and The Gambia, one of the first regions where slaves came from. This is largely due to the fact that many were sent to work in really dangerous conditions. One other key discovery is the impact that there are stronger contributions made by females to the gene pool even though the majority of slaves were male. This is likely due to rape and other forms of sexual exploitation. 

      This study is a pretty grim one, but also a fascinating one at the same time. I think what has to be hard for African-Americans is not knowing for sure who their ancestors were and/or where they come from. Hopefully this study and future ones can help them feel more connected to their African roots. 

      (Photo: Reuters)

    • I’ve recently read about 23andMe in a book by Timothy Caulfield called The Cure for Everything: Untangling the Twisted Messages About Health, Fitness, and Happiness. From his investigation it seems they are a fully legitimate company but his findings are that there really is minimal value to be had from getting your genome evaluated for health reasons. He was at first a critic of them but later went to get them to sequence his genes and share their findings. Caulfield also talked to numerous genetic researchers about this field.

      Like many companies, 23andMe is finding out that there’s real value in data collecting.

    • Many companies aren’t even sure of how the data will be used, useful or valuable to them. They just know big data and big data processing is a hugely growing area and can be financially lucrative. Strava for example is a company collecting huge amounts of user data but the financial reward for this is still largely in the future. Technology or AI that combs through genetic data is really in the early stages and it’ll be a while before companies really cash in. The genetic Health revolution really hasn’t materialized but that hasn’t stopped companies from trying to figure out how to make money off genetic data and analysis. I’m sure 23andMe execs are regularly brainstorming ways to make money off of this. At this point I think it’s mostly anthropologists who are making the most of genetic data.

    • It’ll be interesting to see how this data gets used and for what purposes it will serve. You are correct that at the moment, anthropologists are the ones who are the immediate benefactors.