Cracking your own mutations

I dunno.  Maybe it’s just me.  And I’m not inherently cautious by nature.  I’m pretty adventurous–heck, I’ve started several companies now.  But I think sequencing your own DNA and your family’s DNA for harmful genes is unwise.

A woman in Cambridge made the Globe today by looking for her possible hemochromatosis variations using the PCR machine in her apartment closet.

Do-it-yourself genetic sleuthing

In her humble first-floor apartment, Katherine Aull is searching for a killer that has stalked her family for generations.

I also have enormous sympathy for the father searching for answers about his daughter’s undiagnosed condition:  DIY DNA: One Father’s Attempt to Hack His Daughter’s Genetic Code.  I might do the same thing in this situation.  Maybe.  Or maybe not.

I have no means to stop anyone from doing this in their apartment or attic.  Although I’m not sure I like the idea of people dumping modified E. coli around.  But I just wonder about the social and psychological consequences. For which a lot of people will not be ready.

What if you found out your sibling wasn’t the sibling you thought?  I’ve seen rates from 1% to 30% that one’s parent may not actually be one’s biological parent.  What if you found that out about yourself or a sibling–or your kid?  Are you ready for that? Is your family ready for that conversation?

What if you found out that a sibling had a bad mutation with severe consequences?  And then later found out you were wrong?

Will you drive yourself crazy with unreliable internet information on genes?

Maybe it won’t happen.  And I suppose it is none of my business.  But I won’t even give my family advice on which mutual funds to pick for their retirement accounts because I can’t handle that responsibility.  Nevermind their genetic interpretations.   And part of my reluctance to be sequenced actually also is responsibility to disclose to my family what is in my genes (which they may share).  Can they take it?  Can I take the pressure?

I just honestly don’t know.  I’m so torn on this.  Yet I know it is unstoppable.  Biohacking is coming our way.  Maybe it will be as benign as creating fun Genome Apps for your iPhone.  Or maybe it will be as bad as a shaken baby App.

I wonder how it will play out.  We certainly live in interesting times.  And I’m glad to have a front row ticket.