Like The Herald Business Journal on Facebook!
The Herald of Everett, Washington
Heraldnet.com

The top local business stories in your email

Contact Us:

Josh O'Connor
Publisher
Phone: 425-339-3007
joconnor@heraldnet.com

Jody Knoblich
General Sales Manager
Phone: 425-339-3445
Fax: 425-339-3049
jknoblich@heraldnet.com

Jim Davis
Editor
Phone: 425-339-3097
jdavis@heraldnet.com

Site address:
1800 41st Street, S-300,
Everett, WA 98203

Mailing address:
P.O. Box 930
Everett, WA 98206

HBJ RSS feeds

23andMe seeks FDA approval for personal DNA test

SHARE: facebook Twitter icon Linkedin icon Google+ icon Email icon |  PRINTER-FRIENDLY  |  COMMENTS
By Matthew Perrone
Associated Press
Published:
WASHINGTON -- Genetic test maker 23andMe is asking the Food and Drug Administration to approve its personalized DNA test in a move that, if successful, could boost acceptance of technology that is viewed skeptically by leading scientists who question its usefulness.
23andMe is part of a fledgling industry that allows consumers to peek into their genetic code for details about their ancestry and future health. The company's saliva-based kits have attracted scrutiny for claiming to help users detect whether they are likely to develop illnesses like breast cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer's.
The biology of how DNA variations actually lead to certain diseases is still poorly understood, and many geneticists say such tests are built on flimsy evidence.
For years, the Silicon Valley company has resisted government regulation, arguing that it simply provides consumers with information, not a medical service. But now company executives say they are seeking government approval -- and the scientific credibility that comes with it.
"It's the next step for us to work with the FDA and actually say, 'this is clinically relevant information and consumers should work with their physicians on what to do with it,' " said CEO and co-founder Anne Wojcicki, who is married to Google co-founder Sergey Brin. Google and Brin have invested millions in the privately held company, which is based in Mountain View, Calif.
Wojcicki says the shift in strategy reflects the growing scope of the company's test kit, which now measures the risks of developing more than 115 different diseases.
23andMe said Monday it submitted an initial batch of seven health-related tests to the FDA for review. The company plans to submit 100 additional tests in separate installments before the end of the year. Tests involving family history and nonmedical traits will not be reviewed, since they don't fall under FDA oversight.
Even some of the harshest critics of the genetic testing industry say 23andMe is taking the right approach.
Dr. James Evans of University of North Carolina said he considers much of the information reported by 23andMe, "relatively useless," and "in the realm of entertainment." He believes patients benefit more from pursuing a healthy lifestyle than parsing the potential risks of developing various diseases.
But as test makers begin analyzing larger portions of genetic code, there are rare cases when the findings may help doctors identify patients with a higher risk of treatable health problems, such as aneurysms or colon cancer.
"I think we've now entered an era where these direct-to-consumer offerings are beginning to have real medical relevance, and therefore I am in favor of them being done within some regulatory context," said Evans, a professor of genetics and medicine at UNC's Medical School.
The move may also give 23andMe a competitive edge over rivals like deCODE Genetics and Navigenics, which market similar tests. Those companies did not respond to requests for comment Monday.

MORE HBJ HEADLINES

CALENDAR

Share your comments: Log in using your HeraldNet account or your Facebook, Twitter or Disqus profile. Comments that violate the rules are subject to removal. Please see our terms of use. Please note that you must verify your email address for your comments to appear.

You are logged in using your HeraldNet ID. Click here to update your profile. | Log out.

Our new comment system is not supported in IE 7. Please upgrade your browser here.

comments powered by Disqus

Market roundup