Genetic testing company 23andMe has just gotten FDA approval to sell a test for hereditary colorectal cancer syndrome directly to their consumers.
The test examines three genetic variants of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry that have indicated a correlation to the cancer syndrome. It’s the second time that 23andMe has been approved for a cancer test based on genetic mutations, with the first being a test for the BRCA gene which can act as a litmus test for the likelihood of developing breast cancer.
While the test is innovative in its being sold directly to the consumer, some have concerns.
As with the BRCA tests, some are worried that conducting the tests without medical consultation or supervision could give consumers a false sense of security based on a lack of information and doctoral correspondence. Hereditary colorectal cancer syndrome only accounts for about five percent of inherited colorectal cancer cases, so the test would be far from an assurance of benignity, a fact that may be overlooked by consumers.
Nonetheless, some still find the possibilities promising.
It's only a small subset of colorectal cancers, and there are still concerns about educating consumers – BUT we're at the beginning of an exciting disruption that will end up saving lives https://t.co/EY7nVEmDQG via @technology #cancersucks
— Jay Ferro (@jayferro) January 23, 2019
I hope 23andMe's continued foray into the space encourages innovation, investment in patient/customer experience, and data interoperability in DTC and non-DTC genetic testing.
— Gaurav Kaushik (@gaurav_bio) January 23, 2019
But the company brings with it a host of other concerns.
As mail order DNA testing becomes more prominent, many are concerned about matters of privacy, and the implications of DNA being collected by a private company.
Concerns are especially heightened when factoring in insurance policies.
Yup. Insurance company will buy them, and the data will belong to them.
— DavidWSTX_1 (@1Davidwstx) January 21, 2019
People should keep in mind, insurance policies will soon be based on 23 and me / DNA results
— AJ (@TampaBayAJ) January 22, 2019
Having just finished reading CM I am awfully surprised you went ahead and got a 23andMe test? What happens when insurance and healthcare companies set up an equivalent to FBX? To the extent that a formal exchange doesnt exist already..
— Daniel Katzew (@Daniel_K_SA) January 21, 2019
I am a very pro-technology, but will not get my DNA sequenced until I must for life-threatening reasons. Insurance companies buying this data. Do not believe 23andme companies about privacy. It may affect my ability to get insurance. False positive/false negatives other problem.
— Eric Nelson (@CommodoreNelson) January 19, 2019
Regardless of concerns, it doesn’t look like the company will stop growing any time soon.