"People like your daughter are invisible to pharma. The way these research studies are typically done is they bring in people with Alzheimer’s, give them a drug, and see what happens. Do they get better? Like a number of other brain diseases, the Alzheimer’s process starts before you start having symptoms, so the changes in your brain are happening before you are actually manifesting dementia. Most of pharma’s trials have failed, and the key takeaway is a) they may have been targeting the wrong molecule and b) they were intervening too late. So now what pharma wants to do is new trials in people who are at high risk, who are like 60 and e4 carriers. But what’s hard for pharma is this: How do you find people who don’t yet have Alzheimer’s and aren’t sick? They’re not going to a doctor. Well, we have 65,000 people in 23andMe who are e4 carriers, and we have 6,000 people in 23andMe who have the same genotype as your daughter’s."
"Since then, my daughter has been matched with handfuls of young Ethiopian adopted children whom 23andMe has identified as her third to fifth cousins. With every match, her web of connection grows another strand stronger. I choose to think of this as a potentially beautiful new world opening up for her--but one that requires an extraordinarily thoughtful bravery from all of us."