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First named female genome sequenced

03/12/2010
Natalie Goode

Illumina has sequenced actress Glenn Close’s complete genome to provide insight to her family’s history of mental illness.

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Illumina has sequenced the complete genome of award-winning actress Glenn Close, making her the first woman to announce to the public that she has had her DNA sequenced.

Using Illumina’s Genome Analyzer technology, Close’s DNA was sequenced, to a depth greater than 30×, to provide information on single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) variation. According to Illumina, over 95% of the genome was reported, including over 12 million genotype labels on previously documented SNPs.

“We are excited to work with Glenn Close to produce the first named female sequence,” Jay Flatley, president and CEO of Illumina, said in a press release. “We are entering a new era in genomic health where information from an individual’s genome will increasingly inform lifestyle decisions and ultimately assist with health management.”

Close, who is best known for her role in the 1987 movie “Fatal Attraction,” decided to have her genome sequenced because her family has a history of mental illness. She says she believes it could be due to “genetic underpinnings.”

Close is a co-creator of BringChange2Mind, a non-profit organization that provides support and information to those with a mental illness and their families. The organization aims to erase the stigma attached to mental illnesses by providing easy access to information about mental illnesses.

“As human sequencing becomes increasingly routine, my hope is that researchers will unravel the genetic aspects of mental illnesses to bring greater awareness about the disease,” said Close.

To solve these genetic mysteries, Illumina is developing a social community among those who have had their genomes sequenced. Participants can exchange information and extract their personal genome sequence data to better understand their identity. In addition to this service, the company is also launching a network of partners, which will include physicians and genetic counselors, to discuss the sequencing process, order the service, collect DNA samples, and deliver final sequencing data to consumers.