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Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne: Who's healthier?
October 29th, 2010
02:54 PM ET

Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne: Who's healthier?

SAN DIEGO, California - If Ozzy Osbourne had a genetic predisposition to an incurable illness, he wouldn't want to know, he told the TEDMED 2010 conference Friday.

But his wife, Sharon, whose idea it was to get both of their genomes sequenced, is very interested in what her own genes might say about incurable diseases, and wants to prepare herself.

"I was initially very involved because I misunderstood the information - I thought I was going to find out where I was going to die, so I could avoid going there," Ozzy said.

The genome reveals that Ozzy has a never-before-seen variation of a gene implicated in music - scientists aren't sure what to make of Ozzy's yet. He also has 338 total variants of genes that have something to do with Parkinson's, although it's not certain what this means yet either.

There is one particular gene of which the Black Sabbath frontman has a variant never seen before in any vertebrate, said Nathaniel Pearson of Knome, the company that sequenced Ozzy's genome. It would be wrong to speculate about what this means, however, he said.

Sharon, who is also getting her genome sequenced, said Ozzy is actually healthier than she is. Turns out Ozzy loves working out, especially on the elliptical machine and bike, as well as doing other cardio.

Sharon is a stage 3 colon cancer survivor (Ozzy remembered her chemo was "like getting a punch in the face for a toothache"), and has Alzheimer's in her family, so she was motivated to do the genome sequencing.

Sharon views Ozzy as a "fascinating individual" - everything from his talent to body language to the way he speaks to "the way he’s so healthy with the lifestyle he leads," she said. This made her curious about his genetic makeup.

"At the end of the world, there will be roaches, Ozzy and Keith Richards," she said.

Ozzy's genome reveals he has genetic evidence of ancestry from Neanderthals, extinct relatives of homo sapiens who roamed the Earth more than 300,000 years ago. But he doesn't have as much Neanderthal remnants as geneticist George Church, founder of Knome, Pearson said. Church actually has three times as much Neanderthal in him as Ozzy.

Previously unknown relatives of Ozzy also came out in his genes: Turns out scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Jesse James are all related to Ozzy, as well as people who perished in the Pompeii volcano eruption nearly 2,000 years ago.

Ozzy told CNN that he would not do anything differently after learning about his genome, since he has already quit drugs and alcohol. But Sharon told CNN that she would modify her behavior after the results, which are still being processed.

The price tag for a sequencing like Ozzy's is $40,000, Pearson told CNN.

TEDMED is an annual event that brings together dozens of luminaries from a variety of fields to "demonstrate the intersection and connections between all things medical and health care related: from personal health to public health, devices to design and Hollywood to the hospital." TEDMED 2010 is taking take place from October 26 to 29 in San Diego, California.


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