Scientists Are Fed Up With Absurd Genetic Tests
A few of us over time will have admittidely rolled our eyes at the sheer lunacy that some genetic tests claim they can carry out. One that springs immediately to mind, is the one test that promised to improve a child’s soccer ability, with a personalised, genetics based training regime.
One geneticist, Stephen Montgomery from Stanford has had enough, and has chosen to highlight the extreme absurdity of many of the “scientific” consumer genetic tests on the market today. Gizmodo reports that Montgomery has created his own company, Except Yes or No Genomics. A satirical company at that.
The concept is easy enough, pay $199 and scientists can use special technology to discover whether your DNA code contains variants that suggest whether your health is at risk. The amusement doesn’t stop there, fork out this sum and find out whether you have genetic variants, which in fact is something everyone has. And if you are wonder what instrument is used, it’s a kaleidoscope.
Montgomery isn’t the only scientist pushing back against these wild claims in the consumer genetics market; he joins an increasingly growing group. Unsurprisingly, the parody site went viral.
Daniel MacArthur, a geneticist at the Broad Institute, ran a blog for a number of years dedicated in part to exposing bad science. He continues to rally for the cause on Twitter. He explained how due to the business of the field, it allows people who don’t know anything about genomics to freely enter the consumer market.
This isn’t the first time concerns such as these have come to light in the press. Back in 2008, an article in the European Journal of Human Genetics argued for better regulatory control of direct-to-consumer genetic testing, highlighting that many of these rests run the risk of being only slightly more accurate than horoscopes.
Additionally, in the same year the FDA, cracked down on 23andMe, ordering the company to cease providing analyses of people’s risk factors for disease until the tests’ accuracy could be validated. At present, the FDA has kept away from policing smaller, fringe companies, like for example those offering advice on your skin, diet and fitness. And for some, it doesn’t even have the authority to police.
MacArthur expressed his desire to see an organisation like the Federal Trade Commission to step in and take a lot more responsibility. He would also like to see the companies list the “scientific” data underlying their claims.
In conclusion, the bottom line is that he wants scientists to be aware of the growing number of salesman trying to prey on them with genetic facades.