The Emerging Market of Personal Genome Services
You know how genealogy became a huge thing years ago? All of a sudden there were dozens of
genealogy sites on the internet, how-to books and tv commercials for sites like Ancestry, even though
people had been tracing their family history since the beginning of time. Today, genealogy sites have
been replaced with personal genome services. Yes, the internet is wild.
What’s a personal Genome service?
Personal genome services are companies that provide individual genetic testing for a few hundred
bucks. You order a kit, get it in the mail, swab your cheek and send it back to the company. A few weeks
later you’ll have your full genetic report in your hands. Of course, it’s nowhere near as easy as it seems.
Genetic research is an expensive, complicated field, and putting it in the hands of consumers may not
have been what NIH always dreamed of doing. Companies like 23Andme, Genes for Good, and
AncestryDNA is labeled “direct-to-consumer genetic testing”, which does just that. Once the data is in
your hands, you’re on your own. This is why it’s tricky.
Genetic research is the basis of personalized medicine, which is a branch that covers predictive,
preventative, and precision medicine. Personal genome services put the information directly in the
patient’s hands. Following the appearance of services, software and websites appeared to help
individuals understand their genetic data. As impressive as it is, the technology can’t compare to what a
doctor can do.
I say all of this because I have used the personal genome services, specifically Genes for Good. The
concept of personal genome services is incredible, but it is tough. I have spent many hours looking over
my genetic data and using services such as Livewello to try and understand all the information that’s in
the data. It’s not an easy job at all.
Considering a personal genome service?
It is, at least currently, not possible to simplify genetic data enough for consumers to be able to read and
understand the information on their own. I’m not saying that personal genome services are bad because
I don’t think that. I believe that they are extremely informative and helpful. They are helpful especially
since many fields of medicine don’t consider individuals genetics. It is important, however, to not take
the information you receive as if it was coming from a medical professional. When genetics are used in
medicine, a lot of factors are involved. Risk factors, family history, and prevalence rates are all
considered when a doctor examines someone’s genetics, and that information is not given in personal
If you have the patience and willingness to learn the basics of genetics, investing in one of the personal
genome services is wonderful. To me, it’s fascinating, and it allows me to learn about genetics while
looking at my genes. However, just remember to take the information with a grain of salt.