I have been watching the home testing kits sold online from lead testing to blood and drug analysis for quite some time and they all raise questions about the validity of the testing protocols. But, in October of this year I began to see TV commercials for 23andme, a simple genetic test for genes. I underlined simple because complete DNA sequencing still has a cost of $5,000. And this home test is $99! So, I looked into the claims further and discovered that 23andme has been around since 2007 and was founded by Ann Wojcicki, wife of Google partner, Sergey Brin. And then, in November, the Food and Drug Administration, (FDA) issued a cease and desist order to the company. The order is based on the fact that 23andme has failed to provide data as to the veracity of its claims despite repeated requests to do so. As of today, the site is still up and running so it is not clear what will happen next.
My own sense of the testing service is that the information provided from spitting into a tube and sending it back for “sequencing” lacks any real quality control and standards of testing. The size of the data pool is unknown, and the results are not published for peer review. And although their hearts may be in the right place, my fear is that the information garnered from the test may be used for medical diagnosis which is an extreme risk. There are too many variables and information is extrapolated from an unknown published source. The trend? More companies will enter the marketplace and believers in technology will trust that the information is valid. This is truly the feared slippery slope. I would encourage readers to do some serious research before shelling out money for an untested product. There is an actual use review on Forbes here.