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About Personal Genomics


Direct-to-consumer genetic testing is an emerging, highly publicized industry, despite considerable skepticism among experts. Advances in sequencing and genomics have revealed some correlations between particular genetic sequences and certain diseases, physical characteristics, and behaviors, though these relationships are not perfectly understood. Nevertheless, entrepreneurs have seized on these correlations to sell tests that purport to indicate whether the customer has an increased risk of a disease or other characteristic. Similarly, associations of genetic sequences with specific geographical locations have led to commercial “ancestry tests.”

Evaluating the claims of these companies is difficult, since their technologies are typically kept private and there is minimal oversight. Medical tests are supposed to be supervised by a physician, and testing laboratories need to be licensed. California has worked with Navigenics and 23andMe, two of the best-known companies, to ensure that they are operating legally in the state, but these Internet-based businesses raise regulatory concerns that cross state boundaries.

This industry may contribute to an over-emphasis on genes as determinants, possibly at the expense of environmental, economic and social considerations. A further concern is the possible use of DNA databases developed by private companies, whose business plans include profiting from the compiled data. Finally, although the companies insist that they will respect the privacy of their customers, there is no effective guarantee.



All about the baseThe EconomistJune 25th, 2016New businesses eye the opportunities in managing genome data.
23andMe Sells Data for Drug Searchby Antonio RegaladoMIT Technology ReviewJune 21st, 2016The consumer genetic-testing startup has amassed one of the world’s largest databases of DNA.
Should We Sequence the DNA of Every Cancer Patient?by Antonio RegaladoMIT Technology ReviewJune 14th, 2016To match cancer patients with drugs, Strata Oncology plans to offer free genetic tests.
Myriad Genetics Refuses To Accept That People Have A Right To Access Their Own DNA Sequencesby Glyn MoodyTech DirtJune 13th, 2016The fight for a patent over people's DNA sequences has been met with resistance by the US Supreme Court and the ACLU.
Are DIY gene-testing kits a good idea?​ by Sharon BrennanThe Guardian June 13th, 2016Over-the-counter tests can predict the likelihood of developing illnesses such as cancer and diabetes. However, they cause some people anxiety, as there are no cures for most hereditary conditions.
FDA chief aims to recruit 100 million Americans for precision medicine researchby Meghana KeshavanSTAT NewsJune 7th, 2016Individuals who work in various sectors would all have access to the data, which itself will not be easily understood.
Biden unveils launch of major, open-access database to advance cancer researchby Laurie McGinleyThe Washington PostJune 6th, 2016Biden announces the start of an open-access genetic database as part of Obama's “cancer moonshot,” although some have raised concerns over genetic privacy.
On Cyborgs and Gene Editing: Lessons from Orphan Blackby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical Times guest contributorJune 1st, 2016The television show takes a cue from science fiction author Donna Haraway and engages the dangers of human genetic modification.
The disturbing thing that happens when you tell people they have different DNAby Ana SwansonWonkblog [The Washington Post]May 13th, 2016A new study suggests that emphasizing essential differences based on genetics can encourage aggression between groups and stir support for war.
Is academic achievement written into your DNA? It’s complicatedby Sharon BegleySTATMay 11th, 2016Behavioral genetics has long been notorious for claiming complex behaviors are the inevitable product of inherited genes. Altogether 74 genes explain less than .05% of differences in education levels.
Meet The Scientists Fighting For More Studies On Genes And Racial Differences In Healthby Peter AldhousBuzzFeedMay 11th, 2016Many question if medicine should seek genetic differences based on a social construct like race, diverting research away from environmental health impacts.
Gene Therapy’s First Out-and-Out Cure Is Hereby Antonio RegaladoMIT Technology ReviewMay 6th, 2016A genetic therapy treatment for severe combined immune deficiency, also known as "bubble boy" disease, is now pending approval in Europe.
The World’s Most Expensive Medicine Is a Bustby Antonio RegaladoMIT Technology ReviewMay 5th, 2016The first gene therapy approved in the Western world costs $1 million and has been used just once.
Hacking CRISPR: Patents, Gene Therapy & Embryosby Elliot HosmanMay 5th, 2016As gene editing experiments on human embryos spread, piecemeal hacks of CRISPR are outpacing discussions of the futures it might enable.
Google's DeepMind shouldn't suck up our NHS records in secretby Randeep RameshThe Guardian [US]May 4th, 2016The revelation that 1.6 million patients’ records are being used by the company’s artificial intelligence arm rings alarm bells.
Why this lab-grown human embryo has reignited an old ethical debate[citing CGS' Marcy Darnovsky]by Patrick MonahanScience/AAASMay 4th, 2016It’s easy to obey a rule when you don’t have the means to break it. Now two teams report growing human embryos nearly that long, prompting some scientists and bioethicists to contend that it’s time to revisit the so-called 14-day rule.
Cultural Influences Reflected in Divergent US vs UK Human Embryo Research Policies[citing CGS' Marcy Darnovsky]by Eli Y. AdashiThe JAMA ForumMay 3rd, 2016Reactions to CRISPR gene editing experiments depend upon a country's existing laws and regulation.
The gene editor CRISPR won’t fully fix sick people anytime soon. Here’s whyby Jocelyn KaiserScience/AAASMay 3rd, 2016After more than two decades of ups and downs, veterans of the gene therapy field are wary of raising expectations about CRISPR for treating diseases.
With CRISPR in Humans On the Horizon, Will the Public Back Intellia?by Alex LashXconomyApril 29th, 2016Intellia and Editas both lack what so many biotech investors crave: data from human clinical trials. As they race to the clinic, it's hard to tell if either company will pay off.
A Single $249 Test Analyzes 30 Cancer Genes. But Do You Need It?by Sarah ZhangWIREDApril 28th, 2016Color Genomics is marketing gene tests for 30 cancers, but doctors caution that our ability to sequence DNA has far outpaced our ability to understand what the results mean.
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