23andMe, the genetics company that allows you to buy a personal genome service, now has FDA approval to send cancer risks tests to consumers.
You’ll be able to order a kit online that tests for BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genes. Mutations in these genes have been linked to a higher risk of ovarian and breast cancer. Just like the Ancestry kit, it will be delivered straight to your home.
The company announced today that this cancer risk test is a premiere in the world of direct-to-consumer genetics.
“Being the first and only direct-to-consumer genetics company to receive FDA authorization to test for cancer risk without a prescription is a major milestone for 23andMe and for the consumer. We believe it’s important for consumers to have direct and affordable access to this potentially life-saving information,” said CEO Anner Wojcicki in the press release.
However, some scientists pointed out that the 23andMe cancer test does not cover all risk factors, only highlighting 3 out of hundreds of possible gene mutations. Moreover, it should not replace a doctor’s visit by any means. Here’s what the FDA approval press release had to say:
“Consumers and health care professionals should not use the test results to determine any treatments, including anti-hormone therapies and prophylactic removal of the breasts or ovaries. Such decisions require confirmatory testing and genetic counseling. The test also does not provide information on a person’s overall risk of developing any type of cancer. The use of the test carries significant risks if individuals use the test results without consulting a physician or genetic counselor.”
In any case, the 23andMe initiative is still an impressive breakthrough for a consumer oriented biotech firm and paves the way for easier and at home diagnoses.