Homepage / Technology / Genetic testing is coming of age, but for consumers it's buyer beware
Amazon says this Prime Day was its biggest shopping event ever Kudlow says President Trump is 'so dissatisfied' with China trade talks that he is keeping the pressure on As stocks regain their footing, an ominous warning looms Goldman Sachs downgrades Clorox to sell, says valuation is 'unsustainably high' How Satya Nadella has spurred a tripling of Microsoft's stock price in just over four years Kudlow says economic growth could top 4% for 'a quarter or two,' more tax cuts could be coming The one chart that explains Netflix’s stunning comeback US housing starts plunge 12% in June to a nine-month low Aerospace titans Boeing and Airbus top $110 billion in orders at Farnborough Target uses Prime Day to its advantage, logging its 'biggest online shopping day' so far this year Billionaire Marc Lasry sees bitcoin reaching up to $40,000 as it becomes more mainstream and easier to trade These are the 10 US airports where you're most likely to be hacked Amazon shares slightly higher as investors await Prime Day results Wreck of Russian warship found, believed to hold gold worth $130 billion A bullish ‘phenomenon’ in bond market is weeks away from fading, top credit strategist says Stocks making the biggest moves premarket: MS, GOOGL, TXN, UAL, NFLX & more Twitter shares up 50% since late April means most upside priced in, analyst says in downgrade EU fines Google $5 billion over Android antitrust abuse Mortgage applications fall 2.5% as buyers struggle to find affordable homes America may not have the tools to counter the next financial crisis, warn Bernanke, Geithner and Paulson Investors are getting spooked as the risk of a no-deal Brexit rises EU expected to fine Google $5 billion over Android antitrust abuse Ex-FBI chief James Comey urges Americans to vote for Democrats in midterm elections Elon Musk apologizes to British cave diver following baseless 'pedo guy' claim Disney, Comcast and Fox: All you need to know about one of the biggest media battles ever Xiaomi shares notch new high after Hong Kong, mainland China stock exchanges reach agreement The trade war is complicating China's efforts to fix its economy European markets set for a strong open amid earnings; Google in focus Hedge fund billionaire Einhorn places sixth in major poker tournament The biggest spender of political ads on Facebook? President Trump Asian stocks poised to gain after Fed's Powell gives upbeat comments; dollar firmer Stocks are setting up to break to new highs Not all FAANG stocks are created equal EU ruling may be too little, too late to stop Google's mobile dominance Cramer explains how Netflix's stock managed to taper its drop after disappointing on earnings Airbnb condemns New York City's 'bellhop politics,' threatens legal retaliation Amazon sellers say they were unfairly suspended right before Prime Day, and now have two bad choices Investor explains why 'duller' tech stocks can have better returns than 'high-flying' tech names Elon Musk is 'thin-skinned and short-tempered,' says tech VC Texas Instruments CEO Brian Crutcher resigns for violating code of conduct Google Cloud Platform fixes issues that took down Spotify, Snapchat and other popular sites Uber exec: We want to become the 'one stop' transportation app 'What a dumb hearing,' says Democrat as Congress grills tech companies on conservative bias Amazon shares rebound, report says Prime Day sales jumped 89 percent in first 12 hours of the event How to put your medical history on your iPhone in less than 5 minutes Investment chief: Watch these two big events in 2018 Even with Netflix slowing, the market rally is likely not over Cramer: Netflix subscriber weakness debunks the 'sky's the limit' theory on the stock Netflix is looking at watch time as a new area of growth, but the competition is stiff Why Nobel laureate Richard Thaler follows Warren Buffett's advice to avoid bitcoin Rolls-Royce is developing tiny 'cockroach' robots to crawl in and fix airplane engines After Netflix plunge, Wall Street analysts forecast just tame returns ahead for the once high-flying FANG group Roku shares rise after analyst raises streaming video company's price target due to customer growth China is investing 9 times more into Europe than into North America, report reveals Amazon says US Prime Day sales 'so far bigger than ever' as glitch is resolved Netflix is on pace for its worst day in two years US lumber producers see huge opportunity, rush to expand San Francisco to consider tax on companies to help homeless Homebuilder sentiment, still high, stalls as tariffs, labor and land drive up costs Powell backs more rate hikes as economy growing 'considerably stronger' Netflix history is filled with big stock declines – like today – followed by bigger rebounds Intel shares get downgraded by Evercore ISI due to rising competition from Nvidia, AMD Petco aims to reinvent the pet store with something you can't buy online Genetic testing is coming of age, but for consumers it's buyer beware Tech 'FAANG' was the most-crowded trade in the world heading into the Netflix implosion, survey shows Netflix weak subscriber growth may indicate a 'maturity wall' that could whack the stock even more: Analyst This chart may be predicting the bull market's demise Wall Street says Netflix's stock plunge is a ‘compelling’ buying opportunity because the streaming giant ‘never misses twice’ Tesla sinks after Musk tweets, again Boeing announces new division devoted to flying taxis Stocks making the biggest move premarket: NFLX, UNH, GS, AMZN, WMT & more Deutsche Bank downgrades Netflix, but says big subscriber miss is not 'thesis changing' IBM is experimenting with a cryptocurrency that’s pegged to the US dollar North Korea and Zimbabwe: A friendship explained Virgin Galactic spinoff Orbit to launch rockets from the UK with space deal Artificial intelligence will create more jobs than it destroys? That’s what PwC says ‘Treasonous’ Trump and ‘Putin’s poodle:' Scathing headlines follow the Trump-Putin summit China’s fintech companies offer ‘enormous’ opportunity, investment manager says Trump's performance at summit with Putin was 'unprecedented,' experts say Walmart and Microsoft link up on cloud technology as they both battle Amazon European stocks seen mixed amid earnings; Fed’s Powell to address Congress How I knew I should quit my day job and run my start-up full-time: Viral website founder China's stocks have been trounced, but the trade war may ultimately be good news for those shares Billionaire tech investor Peter Thiel bets on crypto start-up Block.one Asian shares subdued open after mixed close on Wall Street; energy stocks under pressure Amazon cloud hits snags after Amazon Prime Day downtime Netflix isn't doomed by one quarter unless people start questioning the long-term investor thesis Tech stocks set to sink on Tuesday after rough evening for ‘FANG’ Netflix plummets after missing big on subscriber growth This wristband lets humans control machines with their minds The U.S. has a rocky history convincing Russia to extradite computer criminals Amazon suffers glitches at the start of Prime Day Jeff Bezos is now the richest man in modern history 'The United States has been foolish': Read Trump and Putin's full exchange Goldman Sachs recommends these 5 highly profitable companies — including Nvidia — to combat rising inflation Goldman Sachs releases 'tactical' stock picks for this earnings season Three red flags for Netflix ahead of its earnings report The bond market may be raising recession fears, but don't expect one anytime soon Cramer: Banks are 'making fortunes' but are still as hated as they were during the financial crisis Putin told Trump at summit: Russia never meddled in US election


Genetic testing is coming of age, but for consumers it's buyer beware

It’s becoming more and more common for patients to choose genetic tests that assess risk for diseases such as breast cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes and other conditions — especially if there’s a family history. Yet because some of the tests focus on wellness rather than specific disease diagnoses, insurance can be limited. Doctors and other experts say it’s very much buyer beware.

Actress Angelina Jolie has become a poster child for preventative medicine through genetic testing after opting to test for a mutation of the BRCA1 gene. Jolie, whose mother died of ovarian cancer at age 56, chose to undergo a double mastectomy followed by removal of ovaries and fallopian tubes when she tested positive for the mutation in the BRCA1 gene. Prenatal genetic testing also has become increasingly common, especially for Down syndrome, cystic fibrosis and other chromosomal abnormalities.

While insurance coverage for genetic testing is currently limited and variable, there’s increasing coverage for some genetic tests, such as testing of children for conditions such as galactosemia, phenylketonuria and severe combined immune deficiency. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services also recently increased expanded coverage to include genetic diagnostic laboratory tests for patients with advanced cancer, citing the usefulness of such tests to help oncologists make more informed treatment decisions.

Driving this sea change in personalized medicine has been a dramatic drop in the price of genomic sequencing, an explosion in the number of companies introducing new genetic tests and increasing consumer comfort with the concept. The price of whole human genome sequencing dropped from $2.7 billion in 2003 to about $100 today.

“There are now over 75,000 genetic tests — that comes to over 10 new tests that enter the market every day, which is both good news and bad news,” said Kathryn Phillips, professor of health economic and health services research at the University of California San Francisco and lead author of a study on the growth of genetic testing that was published in Health Affairs.

The costs of these tests has dropped significantly, now typically ranging from under $100 to more than $2,000, depending on the kind of test and complexity.

The explosion of the genetic testing market comes with plenty of pros and cons, said Phillips. While many of the ideas that new tests may well be beneficial to patients, “it gets very confusing for consumers, patients and providers to sort through. It’s really the Wild West right now in terms of how to deal with this tsunami of genetic tests,” she said.

The global genetic testing market is expected to surpass $22 billion by 2024, according to market research consulting firm Global Market Insights.

While genetic testing for medicine is gaining traction, interest in using genetic testing for health and wellness is another quickly growing market. Given the industry’s rapid growth, it was only a matter of time that genetic testing would be paired with counseling and preventative health advice.

A growing number of companies are offering just that. One is Arivale, a Seattle-based start-up that offers genetic testing with health coaching for a monthly fee of $199. To get started, customers go through an initial consultation that involves DNA, blood, saliva, urine and a questionnaire. Once the results are back, customers are paired with a health coach to help interpret the results and offer lifestyle suggestions and support. Arivale said personalized advice can help customers determine the best diet for them or effective exercise routines.

Clayton Lewis, one of the co-founders of Arivale, likes to offer up his own experience. A triathlete, Lewis has been a longtime health nut and was confident that his blood work and genetic testing would confirm that his healthy lifestyle was paying off. What he learned instead was that he was prediabetic. As it turns out, he had recently started cutting out carbohydrates in favor of the paleo diet, which eschews all grains and legumes in favor of a diet consisting mostly of meat, vegetables and some fruit.

Through genetic testing, Lewis learned that he is heterogeneous for the FTO variant, which means it is difficult for him to process the paleo diet. His CRP — a measure of inflammation — was also high as a result of a diet that was inappropriate for his genetic predisposition. His coach said that what he needs instead is a diet full of rich, dense complex carbohydrates.

Taking a different approach is Helix. Helix sequences your DNA and then stores the data like a “genomic wallet.” Customers can then opt to buy various diagnostic tests through its marketplace to assess genetic predisposition for high cholesterol or diabetes, food sensitivities, ancestry or other tests as they become available.

There are also companies such as AncestryDNA, which tests DNA for $99 and offers insights about ethnicity. 23andMe also offers information about ancestry and earlier this year received FDA approval to offer tests measuring genetic health risks, such as BRCA1/BRCA2.

When James Lu, one of the co-founders of Helix, started a career in genomics, he quickly saw the potential.

“It’s evident that sequencing data would be valuable for everyone to have — for sick and healthy people. With the price point of genomic sequencing in the $100 to $200 range, it’s brought us to genomic medicine in a way that’s historically never been possible. Increasingly over time it will become the standard of care,” said Lu.

There could be much usefulness from the tests, but it’s up to individuals to figure out their usefulness. There are websites at the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes for Health that offer some information on which tests are most useful. But for the large part, people are on their own to find that information or find expert help, such as a genetic counselor.

The upsides to genetic testing can be quite appealing, but as the field of genetic testing grows, there are also tests for general wellness or entertainment, such as understanding your ancestry, which have little or no medical applications.

Insurance tends to cover the most medically useful and straightforward. This would cover genetic tests for rare or monogenic diseases, such as cardiomyopathy, hereditary cancer or epilepsy.

“For complex traits such as diabetes, coronary artery disease or obesity where there are multiple genetic and environmental factors at play, genetic testing is less useful,” said Heidi Rehm, chief genomics officer at the Center for Genomic Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Interpreting genetic tests also takes skill and experience, a specialty that not all doctors, or health coaches, are ready to take on. A recent study that surveyed 488 doctors in the New York City area found that only 14 percent reported feeling confident they could interpret genetic test results.

“There are challenges in interpreting results. Each individual has thousands of DNA variants that are different compared to others. Some variants have no effect and some have severe effect. Research is often needed to figure out what those variants might be doing. Sometimes you find them and don’t know what they mean.”

Sometimes a genetic test result will come back indicating “uncertain significance.” And there are some doctors who have misinterpreted that information, telling patients that they’re positive or recommended inappropriate care based on these results, Rehm explained.

Like with any specialty or service, it helps to shop around or get second opinions. Patients can start by asking their doctor or health coach how much experience they have with interpreting genetic results.

Given the growth of genetic testing, it’s not surprising that genetic counseling has become a fast-growing field. According to the National Society of Genetic Counselors, a professional organization that represents genetic counselors, there are now 4,600 certified genetic counselors in the United States and Canada, a figure that’s expected to increase to 5,000 by the end of this year.

The number of genetic counselors has almost doubled in the last 10 years and is expected to grow by 75 percent over the next decade, said Erica Ramos, president of the society. Certified genetic counselors (look for a GCG, LGC or LCGC after the name) need to complete a two-year master’s program at an accredited program, then pass a board exam by the American Board of Genetic Counseling.

Of course, unlocking genetic information can also come with some potential downsides. Finding out you have a genetic predisposition to develop a deadly incurable disease can have real consequences — both psychological and financial.

For instance, someone who finds out they have an incurable disease, such as Huntington’s disease, may become uninsurable for life insurance.

“They just need to be aware that you can find out things with genetic tests. There are implications. It’s not just all fun and games,” said Lewis. Some people may want to know, while others don’t, but there are implications to consider before deciding to go with a genetic test. Also, while some genetic indicators are fairly accurate, some are still less clear. For instance, there’s a gene that some people think has some relationship to the risk of getting Alzheimer’s, but it’s not that accurate of an indicator.

Genetics, after all, aren’t a crystal ball into the future. Environmental and lifestyle factors play important roles as well. Companies offering genetic testing and health advice are hoping to change the way people approach health care.

“Real estate changed when Zillow came along. It used to be that the real estate agent had the keys to MLS service. Now with the internet, we have a very different relationship with Realtors. Likewise, the travel agency, for all intents and purposes, disappeared because data became democratized,” said Lewis. With genetic testing, “we’re educating customers about the impact of their life choices so they can now go and have very different conversations with their physicians.”

More from The Edge @1Market:

Government watchdog warns Boeing, SpaceX delays may cut U.S. astronauts off from International Space Station

Silicon Valley firms are facing anger from a new source: Their own employees

A robot cooks and assemblies burgers in 5 minutes at this new San Francisco restaurant

Source: Tech CNBC
Genetic testing is coming of age, but for consumers it's buyer beware

Comments are closed.