As much as direct domestic DNA kits to the client have aroused interest worldwide, there has been growing criticism of them. The critique is not usually addressed to an individual business (while 23andMe is taking most of the heat being the biggest and having problems with the FDA in the past), but rather on the concept of offering kits of DNA to the people and provide information that is not accurate enough or cannot be used clinically. All the world loved 23andMe and other testing kits genetic home-made, always and when it is focused on novelty; when the marketing began to focus on the kits of personal DNA as a diagnostic tool, it was then when all hell broke loose.
Critical Articles on Home Genetic Testing
Below you can find the most prominent articles related to home genetic testing.
23andMe is Terrifying, but Not for the Reasons the FDA Thinks
Scientific American begins by describing the first 23andMe services that focused on novel facts that anyone can verify about themselves, as if they have a Neanderthal blood on you. They then proceed to the new 23andMe that is marketed as a useful diagnostic tool without FDA permission to do so. They describe the difficult relationships between 23andMe and the FDA that led to this.
The article then shifts its focus to a completely different but related topic: data. Genetic home testing companies have stored the genetic data of the participants and could theoretically resell this information to commercial parties such as insurance companies. 23andMe try to position itself as the genetics of Google, and Google, although the use of the phrase “Don’t be bad” has been notorious about the use of data they have collected over the years for monetization purposes. Although the T&C of 23andMe stipulates that personal information stores will never be sold or shared with a third party, the other claims that it should take these assurances with a grain of salt.
What I learned from home DNA testing
Barbara Ellen from The Guardian talks about her personal experience with DNA testing. She starts using the quick and cheap Thriva kit and then move to 23andMe. She reports that Thriva did not give her any meaningful results, in fact, all the information and” Health Council ” she has received was quite generic. With 23andMe the results were far more detailed, but included a terrible warning related to late onset Alzheimer’s.
The author is very critical of the supposed health benefits that these companies are advertising, when in fact, they provide little information and even if they discover something significant in one’s genetics, it is very likely to be intractable (and has limited accuracy).
What I really learned about my family after testing 5 DNA ancestry tests
ScienceNews.org, a respectable magazine, exposes the personal experience of her writer Tina Hesman Saey in finding clues about her family’s history through home genetic testing with 5 different companies. The companies that were used for that are Living DNA, Family Tree DNA, 23andMe and AncestryDNA.
National Geographic Geno 2.0 has given some results related to the author’s deep past, claiming that there is a familiar link with several famous figures that is difficult to prove or refute, but did not provide useful results with respect to the last 500 of the family. No family members were parties in the database.
The Living DNA was very specific as far as the author’s British roots were concerned, allegedly showing the region from which her ancestors came. No relatives were discovered.
23andMe did a good job giving a detailed ancestry report, although the author doubts the accuracy of the results, some of them made much sense to her. He also mentioned how well these results were explained, linking physical traits to specific genes. No relatives were found and it was difficult to dig deeper into the family tree, however.
AncestryDNA combines a traditional genealogical record with DNA so it is best suited to create genealogical trees, but the furthest in the family that could come was based on the entries the writer has inserted into the software.
In general, she says, the last 2 home DNA kits she used were fun to use and helped her develop the hobby of genealogy research, but nothing is quite “there”.
DNA testing can unite families, but gives mixed responses about ethnicity
Tina Hesman Saey of Science News also wrote about the accuracy of the results of ethnicity through kits DNA. She mentions a case in which someone discovered a family through these tests that she did not know, while mentioning her experience with several of the large DNA kit providers showed a wide range of predictions. One company estimated it to be 25% and another said the number is 77% so it is difficult to rely on such tests.
Say Goodbye to Privacy… Genetic Databases to Identify the Most
Although many consumer-direct genetic testing companies claim to maintain their private genetic data, several important studies have shown the opposite. A recent Time article cites several studies that show how an individual could be identified using only a minute amount of his DNA and publicly available genetic database information.
While you may be concerned about your genetic privacy, not everyone is. Many people charge their raw genetic data received through home genetic testing to third-party companies. These companies are then free to share the data where and how they please. This means that even if you are incredibly careful with your genetic data, a crazy distant cousin could easily ruin your plans. Even if you never use the service yourself, you could be identified simply based on your relationship with the people you have.
This technology has already been used to identify serial killers. While you’re probably not planning any serious crimes, your genetic privacy should be worrying. Life insurance and disability insurance companies could find it and identify it based on their genetics. This could lead to higher premiums and more expensive coverage for those with certain genes.
At home Genetic Testing an Unfortunate Development
James Evans, professor of genetics and medicine at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, argues that home genetic testing is an “unfortunate development that will likely cause considerable damage.In this NPR article, Evans points out the fact that interpreting the results of genetic testing is a difficult business, even for a geneticist.
Other scientists, such as the president of the American College of medical and genomic genetics, Dr. Louanne Hudgins, argue that home direct genetic testing to the consumer is largely unnecessary in most cases. The article even points out that for a number of genes that indicate an increased risk of disease, many people still contract the disease without the gene. This just happens because a gene is weird. Not having the gene still gives you the same chance as the general population of getting the associated disease.
While genetic testing in general can be a future blessing for society, many geneticists, doctors and scientists are skeptical. Companies that market these products generally tend to exaggerate the importance of their results, whether good or bad. This tends to make healthy people make less healthy choices, such as avoiding regular checkups. This also tends to make people at risk worry too much, when diet and exercise should be enough to reduce their risk.
False Reassurance in Genetic Testing of Cancer
A recently published article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), says that while the genetic testing have the potential to help identify carriers of genes that cause cancer, a large majority of women do not carry the gene, but still have significant potential for cancer. In other words, the environment in which your body finds itself is much more important than the genes it has.
The authors of this open letter claim that there are several reasons why direct consumer testing is misleading. First, they are usually not accompanied by good advice from a doctor or geneticist. This can lead to misleading results. Secondly, they produce a good number of false-positive results, which a large-scale clinical genomic evaluation would identify. Finally, increased sales through marketing techniques based on fear. This leads to an increase in genetic testing at home, but not necessarily sound cancer prevention techniques.
Overall, the main concern expressed is that genetics is too complex for the average person to understand. Despite the fact that the FDA has just approved the company’s product for genes related to breast cancer, these tests are far from the full picture. Breast cancer, like many other cancers, has a variety of causes and genetic risk is only a small component. Direct genetic testing of the consumer often exceeds this function and causes unnecessary concerns and wasted resources.
Source: Gill, J., Obley, A. J., & Prasad, V. (2018). Direct genetic testing to the consumer: the implications of the first U.S. FDA marketing authorisation Wireless network name (SSID): https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2018.5330
Alarmingly High False Positive Rate in Direct Genetic Testing to the Consumer
A recent article in Genetics in Medicine found that up to 40% of direct genetic testing to the consumer produced false positives. This means that almost half the time, a person’s genetic test results will show that they have a gene that they don’t actually carry.
The complexity of the human genome is partly to blame. Scientists have used several methods to find and identify genes within the genome. However, not all of these methods are 100% accurate. Specifically, as indicated in the article, the majority of the companies of direct to consumer genetic testing analyzes the DNA for single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP). These small mutations in DNA are sometimes related to the presence of a gene, but not always. Using more advanced and rigorous techniques, these false positives could be discarded.
But most genetic testing companies don’t seem to have time for that. A clinical genetic analysis ordered by your doctor is expensive, but thorough and analyzed by several professionals. Direct consumer testing is only cost-effective with a high turnover ratio and fast processing time. While this capacity is likely to improve in the future, it is currently a source of misunderstanding and confusion in the medical community.
Source: Tandy-‘connor, S., Guiltinan, J., Krempely, K., LaDuca, H., Reinecke, P., Gutiérrez, S., … Tippin Davis, B. (2018). False positive results published by direct genetic tests to the consumer highlight the importance of clinical confirmation tests for adequate patient care. GENETICS in MEDICINE. https://doi.org/10.1038/gim.2018.38
The Reviews on the DNA Test at Home Alone?
It is difficult to address this question because anyone who uses a domestic DNA kit is forced to experience something completely different. If the company you used provides inaccurate information, or does not provide you with enough output, you will naturally be frustrated by the time and waste of money involved. If your results are good and serve your purpose, whether related to health or genealogy, you are bound to be satisfied. These are all independent cases that do not show much in one way or another, in our opinion.