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Are We Ready for OTC Genetic Testing?

Jan 10, 2011 08:24PM ● By Anonymous

The kits were supposed to go on sale Friday, May 14 and were to run between $20 and $30.  (The cost would go up once you mail your spit sample back to them; testing would cost $79 and up, depending on the test you wanted.)

A San Diego-based company, Pathway Genomics (a two-year-old startup), markets the product/service. Its website claims Pathway Genomics will “scan your DNA for genetic markers that indicate risk for adverse health conditions, including Type 1 & 2 diabetes, breast cancer, obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, prostate cancer and many more.” The site goes on to say, “After your DNA is tested, you will have the option of having your sample stored in our secure DNA lockbox™ to be re-tested down the road as new science emerges. As new prevention, drug reactions (positive and adverse) and risks based on your specific genes are scientifically validated, you’ll be the first to know!”

Those are powerful words, powerful enough to pique the interest of the Food and Drug Administration.  Pathway claims the home test meets federal regulations and doesn’t require FDA approval.  Expect lots more on this subject.

In the meantime, let’s consider four crucial questions:

1. Do we really want to know all the things that might go wrong with our bodies?
2. Should we consider finding out this information without a doctor involved?
3. Can we trust the potentially life-changing results to a mail-in spit test?
4. Will the results of such testing remain secure?

One service mentioned on the Pathway Genomics website, however, did catch our eye:  The Ancestry Report.  Through today’s technology, researchers have actually been able to trace certain individuals’ roots back to Genghis Kahn.  I can’t help but wonder who factored into my family tree, going back more than 10,000 years.  Vikings, Moors, Visigoths?  Considering the recently published findings that some of us are as much as four percent Neanderthal, these are fascinating questions.