The science and technology powering the AncestryDNA test, which helps people better understand themselves and where they come from, is always evolving. We are constantly seeking new and better ways to provide insights into your past and to help you uncover the stories and relationships that have come together to make you who you are. As part of that focus on continual improvement, starting next week, we will begin to use a new DNA test chip for the AncestryDNA test.
The new chip, with approximately 700,000 DNA markers, has been designed to help us refine our ability to provide insight into your ethnic and geographic origins and your family’s genetic history. In the four years since we launched AncestryDNA, we have learned that some markers, also known as SNPs, in DNA are better indicators of ethnic and geographic origins than others, so we have created this new chip to focus on those signals and enable further refinements to the results. This will provide further improvements to the ethnicity results we provide. For example, many of the markers that were picked for the new chip were selected because they provide greater insight into non-European populations. In addition, they strengthen our ability to provide matches to cousins who have also taken an AncestryDNA test. Altogether, the changes we have made to the new chip will enable us to provide more of the ethnicity and family story insights you have come to expect from us.
The new chip also includes some markers associated with health. Although we don’t currently offer health or diagnostic products to our customers, DNA data is used to improve our products and develop new ones, and for customers who have explicitly agreed, in external research to further understand human history and improve human health. We continue to explore the possibility of developing health products in the future, and may do so with proper regulatory and legal approval.
The data derived from this new chip is backward compatible with the tests that were done on the prior chip. This means that features like DNA cousin matching will work seamlessly for all our customers. It also means that if you’ve already taken an AncestryDNA test, you don’t need to take a new test for the existing features of our service to continue to work.
We are excited to be taking this step with AncestryDNA. We are confident that it will help us continue to refine the value we provide to our customers, offering more insights into the history of your families and connecting you with relatives you never knew before. We’re also excited by the possibilities it opens up for new products in the future.