British citizens now have affordable access to their own genetic information, as 23andMe launch in the UK.

23andMe opened for business in the UK today. “The UK is a world leader in genomics and we are very excited to offer a product specifically for UK customers” said 23andME CEO, Anne Wojcicki. The service offers over 100 reports on health, trait and ancestry information.

In their press release, the company point out that the 23andMe Personal Genome Service is not a diagnostic, but does include results for genes associated with some inherited conditions as well as genes that may reveal risk factors and medication response. There has been some negativity around 23andMe’s perceived marketing of their service as a diagnostic product in the USA ultimately leading to the FDA issuing a cease and desist order.

One of the major criticisms leveled against 23anMe was the lack of support and guidance offered to customers upon receipt of results. This is still a source of concern here in the UK. Despite some legitimate concerns around the direct-to-consumer genetics marks, this is an exciting milestone in the developing genomics story here in the UK.

Regardless of where patients receive genetic test results, there is still a fundamental challenge ahead; how do you integrate genomic information into healthcare practice? If 23andMe’s service proves popular in the UK, it may result in significant pressure being put on the NHS to address this. In this regard, we may find ourselves looking back on December 2014 as being one of the pivotal flash points in the history of genomics in the UK.