Google to offer employees cancer DNA test to improve treatment


My own thought is to do monthly MRI scans of the entire population, then run automatic difference analysis on the resulting data. You would pick up a lot more than just cancer that way. Obviously its an expensive way to go, but technology procurement is most expensive at low volumes. Increase the number of MRI instruments you make, and you should push down the price a long way. Identifying problems early should cut into health care costs as well.

I just want to know, who ends up with the IP rights to the sequencing data?


Don’t tell me the service is going to be provided by 23andMe.

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Ooops, talked before reading.

“The tests, which are offered by Foundation Medicine, cost between $5,800 and $7,200.”

Google will then fire the highest risk individuals, or raise their health premiums


You realize that Anne Wojcicki and Sergei Brin are separated and are likely to divorce, yes? I’d imagine that might have an effect on 23&Me relations to Google…

It’s just a shame that genomics got sidetracked as an idle vanity project for some rich asshole’s dumbass trophy wife.

No, I don’t. And maybe that’s why Google chose another lab?

Now see here in the company town all yer needs are taken care of. At some of them other towns, you jus don know what yer gonna see. We got food, medicine, games… no, no elections, why do you ask?


Its a shame that you have to be such a misogynist jackass.

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It’s a shame that you go through life making loony ad hominem criticisms.

Ignoring the unnecessary bigotry regarding Anne W (or is there a new wife already?), I do agree with your frustration that what could have been a useful and industry-leading innovation in genomics turned into a poorly conceived and horribly executed vanity project that has probably soured the milk for future genomic companies.

Anne has even admitted publicly that she only goes to the company for at most a few hours a month and does not know anything about decisions made by her managers. Even the supposed strong suit of the company – genetic research data – is nullified by the astonishingly unscientific method of collecting data points (other than the raw DNA data itself). From an administrative and research standpoint the company is a disaster.

Indeed, and it took a special kind of stupid to run afoul of the FDA, which surprised nobody.

And who pays for G&A (Google/Amazon) empire building? Disproportionately, it’s entrepreneurs who have developed actual products, and they pay fees to G&A which go to finance their business development. And that wouldn’t be bad if G&A were doing work the equivalent of old Bell Labs, or Menlo Park, or the Skunk Works. But they aren’t, and genuine entrepreneurs are paying the freight for G&A to create consumer gee-gaws.

Furthermore, genomics is commoditized, and doing anything in that space is like saying “Oh we’re going to build routers and compete with China.” Which is a lousy business case, even if Celera had not already gone that route and been almost universally loathed. Heck even the public side of the Human Genome Project is not particularly well liked.

I had a similar thought. Using detailed DNA analysis to improve my treatment=GOOD. Giving my employer detailed analysis of my DNA=BAD.

Maybe I’m overly cynical but even if they don’t act on it I’m uncomfortable with a report on my potential health risks in the hands of whoever signs my paychecks.


My employer encourages us to go for ‘wellness’ checks at work, for blood pressure measurements, cholesterol levels etc. You get Amazon gift cards for taking part.

Can’t help but be a little cynical about their motives. At best, I guess a healthy workforce is cheaper to insure. Maybe they get discounts on their premiums by offering the service. I prefer to go to my doctor, though.

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It worked so well in “Gattaca.”

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Have we understood what they’re offering - are they offering to predict your risk of cancer when “well” or are they offering to sequence a tumor to tailor chemotherapy if you happen to fall sick? The former I would object to, in the latter case I’d take any help I could get…

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It appears to be tumor sequencing with a company in which Google Ventures had invested.

Foundation does not report risks alleles. It only reports mutations believed to be somatic (i.e., present only in the tumor and not the rest of the body). While it’s technically possible for them to secretly report risk alleles to Google, they would go out of business if they did that and it was discovered. If that’s what Google wants, it can just pick up DNA from its employees’ keyboards.

In fact, Foundation doesn’t test for any mutation associated with cancer. It tests for mutations that will inform treatment.

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