DNA testing not ready for common use, government accountability report says
WASHINGTON — A government investigator told members of Congress on Thursday that personalized DNA tests claiming to predict certain inheritable diseases are misleading and offer little or no useful information.
An undercover investigation by the Government Accountability Office found that four genetic testing companies delivered contradictory predictions based on the same person’s DNA. Investigators also found that the tests often contradicted patients’ actual medical histories.
“Consumers need to know that today, genetic testing for certain diseases appears to be more of an art than a science,” said Government Accountability Office investigator Gregory Kutz, in testimony before a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee.
The accountability office submitted DNA samples from five staffers to four different genetic testing companies. When considering the same disease, the companies’ results contradicted each other nearly 70 percent of the time, according to the investigators.
In response to the same patient’s DNA, one company claimed he was at above-average risk for prostate cancer, a second said he was be- low average and two others said his risks were average.
In another case, a patient implanted with a pacemaker to control irregular heartbeat was told he was at decreased risk of developing the heart condition.
“I believe, as do our experts, that these results clearly show that these tests are not ready for prime time,” Kutz said.