If you could take an at-home DNA test and know your risks for developing serious chronic or even life threatening diseases, would you take it? What if it could have warned you of your predisposition to addiction? With 23 And Me getting it’s first FDA approval, we may be closer to achieving just that.
Addiction and substance abuse has a strong genetic connection- that is, if your parents or other predecessors had a substance abuse disorder, it could explain your own. Children are also more likely to develop an addiction if they are exposed to illicit substance abuse in youth. While research determining exactly what kinds of genetic markers indicate a predisposition to addiction, advancements in home DNA tests such as 23 and Me could make that a reality.
This FDA approval comes after the company was ordered to stop marketing their over-the-counter DNA testing kits, which allow consumers to mail in saliva samples for testing. Currently the 23 and Me tests are approved for 10 non-cancerous diseases:
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Late Onset Alzheimer’s Disease
- Celiac Disease, the cause of gluten sensitivity and intolerance
- Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency, which increases the risk of liver and lung disease
- Early Onset Primary Dystonia, a condition which causes involuntary muscle movement
- Factor XI Deficiency, a blood clotting disorder
- Gaucher Type I Disease, a tissue and organ disease
- Glucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase deficiency, a condition that affects red blood cells
- Hereditary Hemochromatosis, which causes an overabundance of iron in the blood
- Hereditary Thrombophilia, another blood clotting disorder
As of now, the test accuracy is unknown and there are some questions of rather a consumer would be able to properly interpret the results without professional counselling. Some have expressed surprise that the FDA approved such home testing through 23 and Me, given the difficulty even trained physicians have interpreting genetic test results. Medical professionals also warn that these results do not mean development of disease is certain.
There are currently no plans to expand the FDA approval to include addiction due to lack of specific genetic markers which can be detected by the test. However, with more advancements in science we could one day prevent unnecessary suffering and loss of life with a simple home DNA test.