See the little nuclei
Bursting full of information
There's a need to regulate
Bring it down to cells and plasma
Tell you what they're gonna do
Started doing it already
Got to find something new
Looking for it in genetix
Found a new game to play
Think it's impossible to lose
Messing round at playing God
Easy way to play genetix
Genetix, from The Raven, 1979
Have you ever wondered if you have a predisposition to cancer? Ever been curious about what weaknesses you’ve inherited from your parents? Have you ever pondered the idea that silent kinks in your DNA could turn around and kill or debilitate you? Ever stop to think why you hate broccoli or perhaps even why codeine based painkillers don’t seem to work for you?
The answers to these questions are now available from a number of companies, mostly American, which will take a painlessly obtained sample of genetic material from you, usually a swab from inside your cheek, and then analyse this material to give you a report on predispositions to a number of diseases and other known genetically triggered facts of life. It’s known as direct to consumer genetic testing and the most prominent of these appears to be a company called Genetic Health. (BTW - If you're interested in this whole area, I can recommend this article as a primer and this one as a laugh.)
I was surprised to find a huge number of companies, including many outside the States, offering DNA paternity testing. One company I came across even offers you the service of storing a loved one's DNA, which did strike me as a little... American? But the industry remains largely US dominated and, if you’re interested in getting a look at your genetics, you’re looking at sending a sample to the land of the brave and the home of the free.
I was fascinated to find a company had started up offering services based on your genetic profile in the UAE. But then I had reckoned without the Dubai factor. You see DNA-DX will take your DNA sample and then send you back a picture of your gene map for you to use decorating your uber-funky Dubai Projects Pad. Really - the picture at the head of this article is from their really rather stylish website. The site is a compelling visit: for $420, you can have your very own (signed by the founders, mind) and utterly unique piece of 36 by 24 inch art. Your own genetic map.
Forget being worried about cancer or whether your baby is likely to have Downes syndrome. Forget the trillions of dollars and billions of man-hours that have gone into genetic research. Forget the very real ethical issues and debates raging across the world, the conflict between religion and science, the scares and concerns over GMOs and genetic mutations. Forget the petaflops of processor power – the world’s most powerful supercomputers unravelling protein chains and mapping genomes so that we can start to understand, haltingly, the incredibly complex processes that underpin life itself.
Nah. Stuff that. Because we live in Dubai and we’ve got a unique piece of art that celebrates us in a new and wonderful way. And let's face it: we're Dubai people, so we're really, really worth celebrating.
I’ll regale you with a quick quote from the DNA-DX website:
Dubai has recently become a new capital for Design, Fashion and the Arts in the Middle East that is attracting worldwide attention akin to the style centrals such as Milan and Paris. We feel that our GenePortraits are fitting for a demanding populace and a growing culture that oozes style, class and exclusivity in every form.
It did occur to me today that the city we live in is not imposed upon us: it’s a reflection of us. And I’m not sure I altogether like what I see in the glass sometimes.