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Are DNA profiling services accurate?

October 8, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Several companies are now marketing personal genetic profiles to see what health risk factors a person's genes hold, but experts question the accuracy of such tests.DNA decoder J. Craig Venter and three colleagues set out to test the services of two companies in Silicon Valley: 23andMe Inc. and Navigenics Inc.

They took DNA samples from five people and sent them to the companies.

Researchers found that while both companies' DNA scans were accurate, the way they interpreted the results differed greatly, for instance in the criteria used to assess the likelihood that a customer will develop a specific disease.

But researchers warn that even if all companies agreed on the criteria used to interpret results, much remains to be discovered about the factors that play a role in the development of a disease.

Experts believe companies should be better about telling consumers how much is still unknown, and that people should take these tests with a grain of salt.

The findings are published online in the journal Nature.

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