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Home DNA tests: “Total cost= $1900; Value =0”

Helix is a home DNA testing service. From its website: “Explore products powered by your DNA. With Helix, one saliva sample unlocks a lifetime of insights.”

Author/Cardiologist Eric Topol begs to differ. He tweeted:

“I added up the @my_helix app $ for things w/o science or any convincing data. Total cost= $1900; Value =0. Gives consumer #genomics a bad name.”

From MIT Technology review:

The problem isn’t the tests that tell you about your ancestry or whether you’re a carrier of beta thalassemia. Those are based in solid science. What’s drawing critics is how scrolling through has quickly become a little like visiting the Sharper Image of DNA. But instead of air purifiers, bacon toasters, and other electronic gadgets that no one really needs, people with money to burn can spend $149 on a scarf whose pattern is personalized using their genes, DNA diet apps, or even genetically influenced wine recommendations.

Eric Topol, an influential heart doctor and geneticist at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, says he’s had enough. To Topol, too many of these apps amount to genetic astrology. “The data has no basis. It’s pseudoscience—complete, utter nothing,” he says. He calculated that a consumer could spend $1,900 on 17 apps and learn almost nothing of value.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration signaled that it would unwind what had been a de facto ban on a range of direct-to-consumer gene reports. What’s followed has been a quick expansion of gene tests that range from reasonable to downright silly.

from Boing Boing