DNA test­ing not ready for com­mon use, govern­ment ac­count­abil­ity re­port says

Austin American-Statesman - - WORLD & NATION -

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.

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