FDA Investigating Over-The-Counter Gene Tests | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

: News

Filed Under:

FDA Investigating Over-The-Counter Gene Tests

Play associated audio
Katie Decicco-Skinner, a cancer biologist at American University, says the tests' results should be taken with a grain of salt.
Rebecca Sheir
Katie Decicco-Skinner, a cancer biologist at American University, says the tests' results should be taken with a grain of salt.

By Rebecca Sheir

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says it's looking into a new over-the-counter gene-testing kit to see whether it's accurate and does what it says it will do.

Walgreen's is planning to stock the kits to help people assess their risk for inherited diseases. The drugstore chain says the test does not require FDA clearance, since the manufacturer will be analyzing the results at its lab.

But Beth Peshkin, a genetic counselor at Georgetown University, says even accurate results may not be enough to go on.

"The testing that's being done is a snapshot of what we know right now," she says. "They may be testing for three or four variants, when in fact, it may be hundreds that we need to test for to really predict risk in an accurate way."

Katie Decicco-Skinner, a cancer biologist at American University, says the test also doesn't consider non-genetic factors.

"Diet plays a role, exercise plays a role," she says. "There are a variety of other things that are not going to be picked up by this test."

Decicco-Skinner and Peshkin say the tests could be helpful--for instance, for prospective parents. But they warn against false alarms or false complacency, and urge people to see a professional for the best risk assessment.

WAMU 88.5

Art Beat With Lauren Landau, Jan. 27, 2015

You can see a play about a girl whose world shifts from black and white to full color. An exhibit of abstract paintings is on view in D.C.

NPR

Sandwich Monday: Girl Scout Cookie Coffeemate

For this week's Sandwich Monday, we try Girl Scout Cookies in a new form. Coffeemate has somehow blended them into nondairy creamer, so you can start your day the disturbing way.
WAMU 88.5

Plan To Limit License Plate Tracking In Virginia Gets Bipartisan Support

Technology allows Virginia police officers to scan the license plates of passing drivers, but lawmakers want to limit how long they're allowed to hold onto that information.

NPR

Facebook Suffers Self-Inflicted Outage

A Facebook statement said the disruption was caused by a technical change it made to the site and wasn't a cyberattack. The outage lasted an hour.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.