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How to create a genetic diary

DNA Direct wants to give people an easy way to know what types of genes are affecting their health and future.

CORONADO, Calif.--It's not a vacation home in Santa Barbara, but the best thing that people can leave to their children might just be a DNA map.

At least, that's what Ryan Phelan, founder and CEO of DNA Direct, thinks about her company's services. Phelan told attendees at the Future in Review conference that people who are taking several different prescription drugs or have a family history of cancer should consider looking into their genetic profile.

DNA Direct offers people a chance to send in a DNA sample (a cotton swab to the inside of the cheek) and get the results back in three to eight weeks. Naturally, there's a profit motive behind the pitch. The cheapest test offered by DNA Direct costs $199, and it scales up from there.

Tests are available to determine the genetic probability of several types of cancer, cystic fibrosis, and blood-clotting disorders, among other things. Knowing one's probability for diseases or other health problems could prompt people to get advance screenings when treatment could make a difference, Phelan said. And assembling a family DNA profile could make future generations aware of their susceptibility to various diseases.

Phelan took the opportunity in front of the conference attendees to float a trial balloon: are people interested in paying for a home DNA storage kit? According to an unscientific show of hands, lots of people are willing to pay $100 for such a kit, and Phelan's company is thinking about offering such a product.