Your Health

23andWho? Genetic Testing Company Mixes Up Results

We're not sure personal genetic testing is quite ready for prime time.

But even if we were prepared to plunk down hundreds of dollars to have our DNA scanned for all sorts of health-related genes, a mix-up of results by 23andMe would give us pause.

DNA from as many as 96 customers wasn't processed properly in the lab, causing the wrong genetic reports to be sent to a bunch of people recently.

A post on the Gentics Future blog includes a comment from one distraught woman on 23andMe's community site (which we couldn't access without a password). Mixed up test results for her son indicated that his DNA wasn't derived from her's and her husband's:

I started screaming. A month before my son was born two local hospitals had baby switches. I panicked and I checked over and over.

For its part, 23andMe posted an explanation of the problem late last week on the user site. A spokeswoman sent us a copy today. Besides explaining things, the company vowed to straighten them out:

We are currently putting additional procedures in place that will add an extra layer of safeguards to help assure that similar incidents do not occur in the future.

Last month a House committee launched an inquiry into three companies, including 23andMe, that provide personal genetic tests. The probe came after Walgreens postponed plans to offer a test from Navigenics in retail drugstores.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.