December 13, 2014
23andMe Genetic Testing Approved In Britain
People in Britain can find out more about their DNA than people in the United States. Note to the FDA: I do not think you are protecting me by preventing me from seeing a profile of small changes in disease risks due to lots of single letters in my genome. I know you guys are immune to criticism. But I really wish that was not the case.
The UK regulatory approval means Brits can do what Canadians already can do: get lots of disease risk information about genetic results. The vast majority of genetically caused changes in disease risks are very small. So you are unlikely to find out from 23andme that you absolutely will get a specific disease in the future.
As the impacts of more genetic variants become known your own genetic testing results will become more personally useful. For example, I expect nutritional genomics to turn up genetic variants that indicate who has the right amounts of liver detoxifying enzymes to enable them to safely eat specific foods. Ditto for variants in enzymes and receptors that affect how our metabolism responds to different diets. We are not all equally well adapted to eating the same foods.
We would be better off if more people could know more things about their genomes. Then more people would pay (where allowed) to be tested. Then those of us who volunteer our health and genetic data to researchers could speed up the rate of discovery of genetic factors that influence health and other attributes.
Randall Parker, 2014 December 13 11:51 AM
I totally agree with you about FDA vs 23andMe. My husband and I got our 23andMe kits a year ago, after the FDA shut down 23andMe's health feature.
So we ran our raw data through Promethease (for $5), which apparently gives you basically the same sort of health reporting. It matches your SNPs to articles on SNPedia, an ongoing wiki project. Do you have a SNP associated with increased risk of breast cancer? (There are of course a bunch of them, and a bunch that are associated with a decreased risk). Do you have a SNP associated with +6 IQ points? With autism? With losing weight on a low fat or low carb diet? Any kind of exercise or HIIT? The scientific literature on associations between specific SNPs and phenotypes is growing, and Promethease allows you to run your 23andMe raw data through a program that is continually updated as new research on SNPs is published.
With the 23andMe raw data, we were able to determine that I was not a carrier for Cystic Fibrosis, and a number of other major genetic illnesses. This saved us $600 on prenatal carrier screening.
Here's an article about research claiming to predict what kind of diet or exercise will work best for you, based on a handful of associated SNPs (Provides an interesting perspective on the low fat vs low carb diet debate. It seems that the answer on what diet is best depends on your ancestry.)