Family genetic testing like 23andMe has become more and more popular, and people are also surprised by their results.
Sometimes they are whimsical, such as discovering that they are actually German families of Scots; sometimes they will put the whole identity in doubt, just like finding out that his father has another man who he does not know his son.
This led to the divorce of his parents.
But a new study shows that some of these “surprises” may be just wrong.
Ambry Genetics, a company that interprets consumer DNA test data, examined 49 patients’ raw data that have been tested at home.
A recent re-analysis published in the journal Nature found that 40% of the reported changes to patients did not actually exist.
It is worth mentioning that the MIT Technical Review report pointed out that many false-positive calls are related to genes that increase the risk of cancer, which means that detection may give families no reason to panic.
Given that the US Food and Drug Administration has just approved 23andMe’s sale of cancer risk gene tests, this high error rate deserves special attention.
Advanced technology makes genetic testing more accessible than ever, providing us with another way to meet our desire to learn more about ourselves.
Whether it is our risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or confirming family legends about Native American relatives – even what we have hypothesized as a potential date for “genetic compatibility” – we all believe that the genetics society tells us all that we might Things you want to know.
However, these mistakes have highlighted the warnings scientists and genetic counselors have been sending to the public for years: Family genetic testing should be explained with the help of experts, especially when it comes to disease risk. Due to the complex interactions between genetics, environmental lifestyles and health, genetic risk is not certain.
The same is true of consumer genetic tests that interpret ancestry — they’re not as straightforward as companies assert.
As NPR’s Gisele Grayson recently discovered of her own genes, the process of genetic recombination (when your embryo is formed from sperm and egg) means that you might have a genomic makeup that’s quite different from your parents or siblings.
At-home genetic testing companies also base their information on that of all of the people they’ve already tested, meaning that their data on under-tested populations (that’s generally people of color) could be flawed; “the smaller the percentage of a population within a continent that is in the database, the less certain [genetic analyses] are,” Grayson wrote.
If all of this really squashes your hope of using genetics to find out “who you are,” it might be useful to remember that human beings are a closely related species as it is.
Mathematics and genetic research alike has found that every human currently alive shares a common ancestor as recently as 3,400 years ago.
Yes, genetic tests are, disappointingly, imperfect. But don’t worry, in the long-run of human history, your genetic “ancestry” doesn’t mean all that much anyway.