23andMe and GSK and you

Home genetics testing leader 23andMe and GSK have teamed up in the drug development business. The two companies have formed an agreement that—in exchange for a $300m investment in 23andMe—affords GSK exclusive rights to develop drugs from the data collected from those who spit into a 23andMe cup. So, here’s the chain of events: you pay money to learn your genetic ancestry or more money to learn your ancestry and some health risks. 23andMe and GSK get your data. 23andMe and GSK develop and commercialize a drug and go all Scrooge McDuck on us. Nice gig if you can get it. To be fair, the consumer has the right to opt out. According to NBC News, Parkinson’s Disease is their first target, so despite this writer casting a little side-eye at the model, it’s still hard to root against them.

Take this cancer test with a shaker full of salt

Genetics company 23andMe—popular for their DTC ancestry tests—has been FDA approved for their mail-order breast cancer tests. Consumers can check whether they possess one of three mutations to their aptly-named BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which increase breast cancer risk by 45%-85%. Thing is, there are 1,000 known variations of those genes, and it doesn’t even test the most common. Also, the genes tested mainly affect women of Ashkenazi Jewish descent. Also, if a patient doesn’t test positive for these mutations they may think they’re in the clear breast cancer-wise. Also, some physicians are worried about the mental health effects of learning you may be at risk for cancer without being counseled through it by a professional. But hey, they send the tests to your home so that’s convenient!

23andMe and clinical trials

Want some help with your 2018 weight loss resolution? 23andMe might be able to help. In December they announced the “Weight Loss Intervention Study” noting it will attempt to uncover more about why each of us responds differently to exercise and diet. If you’re a 23andMe customer, then maybe you can be 1 of 100,000 people they intend to recruit. This is not 23andMe’s first time conducting clinical trials. They have conducted them in Lupus and Parkinson’s. According to Dr. Liana Del Gobbo, “We’d like to better understand the genetic, demographic, psychosocial, and behavioral characteristics that predict weight loss success overall, and on different lifestyle interventions.” Cool, because anything’s better than this method of weight loss. And 23andMe is probably not done after raising $250M in September, just like InsightCity.