The Reliability of Home DNA Tests Is Still Unknown

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( — April 9, 2017) — When it comes to disease diagnostics, a DNA test can explain a lot. But what about homemade genetic tests? Are they as reliable as those performed in pricey laboratories?

Not only they are reliable, but they are also capable of telling you the secrets of your genetic makeup and the future of your health, according to companies that market home DNA tests. Some health experts, however, warn buyers to “beware” of such tests.

Home genetic tests can be purchased online from $250 for cystic fibrosis testing to more than $3000 for ovarian cancer, according the WebMD. By simply following the instructions, you take your DNA sample that sometimes includes a “no-mess” stool sample, or you can visit a lab for a blood sample.

Then, you mail the sample for analysis to the company selling the test. After three or more weeks, you receive the results of your genetic profile, and the advice “you should take.” Sometimes the recommendations do not correspond the test price, like “If you smoke, quit.”

Some companies offer buyers to make their own home laboratories with a DNA extracting machine and test genetics kit that can be bought online. Apart from your own DNA, the homemade genetic tests can even determine if a hamburger contains horse meat, or if certain food contains GMO, distinguish between edible and poisonous mushrooms, or typify the genetic code of your homemade beer.

The Deputy Director of the Genetics and Public Policy Center at Johns Hopkins University, Joan Scott, claims that all humans are 99.9% identical. But, this 0.1% difference in genetic level is what makes us unique.

By examining that 0.1% of your DNA, companies that sell home kits for collecting DNA samples claim the tests are accurate. Geneticists say, however, that there is no link between gene mutations and most diseases.

In addition, CDC and FDA warn that genetic tests shouldn’t be conducted at home, but only in a laboratory licensed for such tests, after seeking the advice of a doctor.

Laboratories from time to time must pass tests to extend their license. Geneticists urge people who buy home DNA tests to check the company’s reference, and which laboratory is responsible for the analysis.

The CDC and the FDA say that it is always better to have a face-to-face checkup than to proceed with a faceless examination. The regulatory agency approved only 12 of the 1,000 currently available tests, and none of them are home tests.