NEWS3 Investigates: Pros and Cons of Popular DNA Testing Business

MACOMB, IL – “23andMe” advertisements are showing up all over and becoming well-known to consumers who want to learn more about their health and ancestry. However, a local expert warns that you’re not going to learn everything you may want to know just by submitting some DNA in a tube.

“I would just look at it as a conversation starter and educational tool,” said Dr. Richard Musser, a 23andMe user and biology department chair at Western Illinois University (WIU).

How it works:

The FDA allows genetic testing company “23andMe” to ship a small kit of supplies for people to test their DNA ancestry and genetic disease risks.

The California-based company offers a service that sends the sampling products directly to the consumer’s home after ordering the $200 kit online.

A consumer submits saliva to 23andMe using a vial like the one shown. They then mail their saliva inside a prepaid shipping box.

Then, after placing the saliva inside the collection kit, it’s sent to the lab to be processed for the ancestry results and signs of a disease or disorder.

Local users of the 23andMe service weigh in:

WIU NEWS3 news director Jasmine Crighton and her husband Chad Hankins decided to give 23andMe a try after their family members had done it.

“My brother told me about 23andMe a few years ago,” said Crighton. “It was early on in their infancy when 23andMe just launched and started putting things out there that he had got one and did it and got some interesting test results.”

“My grandmother’s aunt was very big into genealogy,” said Hankins. “She mapped out quite a large portion of that side of my family, so I’m curious to see where that ties in.”

23andMe tests for the above diseases.

Currently, “23andMe” tests for 10 different diseases and conditions, which includes Late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and various blood and organ disorders, but not cancer.

“My family also has a history of Alzheimer’s, so I’m very curious if there’s any information they’re going to provide on that,” said Hankins.

“My granddad had Parkinson’s disease, so I’m interested to see what this might reveal in my DNA,” said Crighton.

Although it seems most of the demand is for the ancestry tests, the company stresses that the health results are not to be considered a diagnosis with the disease.

23andMe Kit Prices:
– Ancestry kit: $99
– Health with ancestry kit: $199

To learn more about 23andMe:

23andMe website

23andMe Facebook page

Interview with Dr. Richard Musser on pros and cons of 23andMe

Learning how 23andMe DNA testing works 

Concerns with 23andMe DNA testing 

By: Devin Brooks