Sunday, August 03, 2014

Personalized genetic analysis

The biggest problem with all the great new self-measuring tools is the torrent of data they produce. You could devote your life to analyzing your results and not come close to understanding what it all means.

You’d think this would be a nice business opportunity for a wave of consultants and advice-givers who will take your data and supply meaningful, actionable summaries, but the FDA’s recent clampdown on 23andme makes this harder than it needs to be. Although automated tools like Promethease make it a bit easier for the rest of us to do it ourselves,  I’m glad that a few brave companies are stepping into the void — they’re at the cutting edge of something that I think will be commonplace, even routine.

 XRGenemics will send you “the world’s most accurate fitness DNA” kit for £150 (about $250), promising results in about a month.

Genetrainer sells a lifetime for $80: give them your 23andme results and they’ll give you a personalized fitness summary, which they’ll keep up-to-date as more science becomes available.

There are also services that specialize in helping would-be parents figure out the likelihood of potential birth defects. Counsyl charges $1000, but with many insurance policies the cost can be closer to $300.

I haven’t tried these services yet — I fortunately don’t have any serious health issues that I want to analyze that deeply — but I’m glad these companies are out there, and I’m looking forward to more new ones in the future.