Last week, we reported on an ongoing eBay auction for personal genome sequencing, analysis, and interpretation by Knome, Inc., a genetics company in Cambridge, Mass. At the time, no one had placed a bid.
But since then, someone did: The auction closed Monday afternoon, with a single bid at the $68,000 minimum Knome had set.
"We don't know who the [auction's] winner is," says Knome's Ari Kiirikki. "We know it's a male and we know he's from Europe." But as soon as the payment goes through, probably within days, the company will learn his identity, he adds, and the unknown man will join about 20 others who have had their genes sequenced by Knome.
Normally, the service—which includes an analysis by Knome's team of clinicians and geneticists so you can understand whether your genetic profile makes you susceptible to certain diseases, such as cancer or Alzheimer's—costs $99,500. It takes about three months to complete the process, says Kiirikki, Knome's vice president of sales and business development.
Proceeds from Knome's eBay auction will go to the Archon X PRIZE for Genomics, which will pay $10 million to whomever decodes 100 human genomes within 10 days.
Kiiriki says Knome is the only company that offers complete genome sequencing to individuals. Others sequence parts of the genetic code associated with certain traits and disease susceptibilities. 23andMe in Mountain View, Calif. offers a "custom genome scan," which, among other things, tells you your earwax type, eye color—as if you didn't know—and whether you are resistant to the highly contagious norovirus, which closed a Massachusetts college earlier this year, for $399.
If you aren't willing to pay for genetic testing, you could always volunteer for Harvard Med School's Personal Genomes Project (PGP), which hopes to enroll 100,000 people. The catch: Your medical and genetic information become public information. The first 10 participants in this project include the likes of Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker and journalist Esther Dyson.
Photo of Flickr user mattfred—not the $68,000 winner, as far as we know—swabbing the inside of his cheek for a DNA test