From allergy to alzheimers, cancer to coeliac disease, we can blame everything on our ‘Genes’. These genes spread across our 23 pair of chromosomes and remains more or less the same throughout our life (leaving aside environment induced changes).
So it would mean if we are able to understand our problematic Genes well before, we would be able to combat our disease better or even prevent it from expressing by making lifestyle changes or even going under the knife (preventive double mastectomy done by Angelina Jolie)
We never heard of it in earlier days
2003 was a landmark year for geneticists. The very first human genome was completed in 2003 as part of the Human Genome Project, which was formally started in 1990. This costed a whopping $2.7 billion. This gave scientist new hope and with time and coming in of newer technologies the whole procedure became simpler. Now it’s possible to sequence entire human genome in a couple of days with less than $10,000. This does not mean everybody has to shell out so much. It’s possible to analyze a small stretch of genes (already mapped to diseases through research studies) to predict the possibility of developing disease like cancer or cardiovascular problems.
Define Genetic Testing
Genetic testing is a type of medical test that identifies changes in chromosomes, genes, or proteins. The results of a genetic test can confirm or rule out a suspected genetic condition or help determine a person’s chance of developing or passing on a genetic disorder. There are mainly seven types of genetic test and over 2000 tests are available.
Can a simple medical test tell whether my child or myself will develop chronic illness?
Anne Wojcicki, co-founder of 23andMe ran a swab across the inside of her baby boy’s cheek, and tested her daughter’s amniotic cells. She did this to get a glimpse of her children’s genes and determine whether they contain certain kinks that increase the risk of developing anything from gallstones to multiple sclerosis. “As a parent,” says Wojcicki, “the most responsible thing I can do is get as much information about my children as possible so I can then think through how I can make them as healthy as possible.”
Should I go to my Physician
Sequencing, or “reading,” a person’s genome has grown into an industry by itself. Now one can even order these tests online from the comfort of their home, without any prescription from healthcare professional. This new age companies are called ‘Direct-to-Consumer’ genetic testing companies. They just need blood sample, cheek swab or saliva (based on the test selected) to perform the tests. The results are then send across through email or uploaded to personal account. The tests either confirm or rule out a person’s chance of developing a disease, or indicate a person as a carrier for a particular disease. The result often include dietary advice to prevent the onset of the disease, which is very valuable.
Define Direct-to-Consumer genetic testing companies
Direct-to-consumer genetic testing refers to genetic tests that are marketed directly to consumers via television, print advertisements, or the Internet. This form of testing, which is also known as at-home genetic testing, provides access to a person’s genetic information without necessarily involving a doctor or insurance company in the process.
In total there are around 250 plus companies which offer genetic testing services. Click here for complete list
Trusted direct to consumer genetic testing companies
23andMe offers DNA analysis and interactive tools to help consumers understand their genetic information and ancestral background. All testing for 23andMe is carried out in a CLIA-certified, CAP-accredited laboratory in the United States. They use saliva sample to perform the testing. They mainly carry out ancestral analysis and health analysis.
- Build your family tree and enhance your experience with relatives : $199
- Personal genome service: $149
complete list of all diseases which can be identified through personal genome service
Counsyl is a Peter Thiel-backed company that positions itself as providing DNA testing for the important moments in life. Counsyl offers DNA screening for men, women, and their children. Ramji Srinivasan is the Co-Founder and CEO of Counsyl.
- Family prep screen
- Inherited cancer screen
Ancestry help to uncover your ethnic mix, discover distant relatives, and find new details about your unique family history with a simple DNA test. With more than 3 million people now in their database and the unique ability to connect with Ancestry’s billions of historical records and millions of family trees, AncestryDNA can help deliver the richest family stories—and solve the toughest family mysteries.
- Ancestry DNA plan: $99
Color analyzes 30 genes—including BRCA1 and BRCA2—to help women and men understand their risk for the most common hereditary cancers, including breast, ovarian, colon, and pancreatic cancer. Complimentary genetic counseling is included.
- Hereditary cancer risk: $249
DNAfit use the power of personal genetics to understand the fitness and nutrition goals on the most personal level possible. The fitness tests analyze 20 genes to advise how you can train more effectively, and the diet tests analyze 13 genes to suggest personalized improvements in nutrition.
- Diet package: 99- 199 (pound)
- Fitness package : 119-149 (pound)
Instant Chemistry use cutting-edge scientific research to bring to customers the latest advancements in relationship science. They test for complementary genes that have been associated with higher levels of physical attraction and long-term relationship success. They also perform neurocompatibility and Psychological compatibility. The kit tests for six genetic variants in the human leukocyte antigens (HLA) system that have been associated with increased physical attraction, longer lasting relationships, and better sex lives.
- Couples kit: $129
International Biosciences offers infidelity DNA testing – a scientific test that can help you draw conclusions about your partner’s fidelity. Clients have to send an item which they believe to contain traces of DNA. They will check and determine whether it’s male or female and if client also provide a comparison sample, they will even perform match testing.
- Infidelity testing: 299 (pound)
Service providers in India
Mapmygenome’s vision is to provide preventive personalized healthcare diagnostics to 100+ million Indians and to save at least 1 million Indian lives by the year 2030. From their webpage one could buy a range of products including their flag ship product genomepatri to Baby map carrier. They have even a Sugargene package to determine predisposition to diabetes type II. They have packages for women wellness, brain wellness, cancer predisposition and sports athletes.
- Genomepatri : 25000 Rs
- Genomepatri onco : 15000 Rs
- Genomepatri gynaec : 15000 Rs
- Slimgene : 4000 Rs
- Livergenome : 9999 Rs
Datar Genetics provide an array of cardiovascular and cancer screening packages. Their women’s screening package screens for breast, ovarian, and endometrial cancer risks. Datar Genetics Ltd has even joined hands with Apollo Hospitals to provide precision oncology, a cancer management technique which brings down pain and lowers costs.
- Women Hereditary Cancer Screening panel : 23000 Rs
- Personal Genome Analysis report
- Cardio-Vascular Disease and Diabetes
Dhiti Omics started its operation in 2014, but then this company is a spin-off from Genotypic Solutions, first Genomics service provider in India. They have with them a team of experienced researchers and subject matter experts in the field of genomics, healthcare and technology.
- Clinical exome profiling: Screening for 5000+ genes that are known to harbor disease-causing mutations
- Inherited Diseases Panel: Tests for 552 genes
- Inherited Common Nephrological Disorders: Tests for 57 genes associated with inherited renal disorders like Alport Syndrome, PKD etc
Word of Caution
- Having a particular gene variation doesn’t necessarily mean that a disease will develop
- Not having a particular gene variation doesn’t necessarily mean that the disease will not occur
- Risk of developing some diseases can come from many sources, not just genetic changes
- Talk to doctor or health care practitioner about whether it might provide useful information about your health, and if so, which test would be best
- Consider the results of direct-to-consumer genetic testing in conjunction with all the other information about yourself