Discovering your heritage is just a spit-tube away these days, thanks to the pioneering efforts 23andMe, the OG of at-home DNA tests. The decade-old company forged the path towards consumer access to genetic health risks and in doing so, created a path for a myriad of rivals like Ancestry and Color Genomics to enter the industry.
But the consumer genetics company hasn’t been without its troubles along the way. In 2013, the Food and Drug Administration became concerned about 23andMe offering consumers access to information about possibly inaccurate genetic health risk results. The FDA soon ordered 23andMe to stop marketing its personal genome service (PGS) while the company worked through the regulatory approval process.
Customers were up in arms and sales for health information halted, leaving 23andMe co-founder Anne Wojcicki in a bind. 23andMe started offering services related to specific medical research and in 2015, Wojcicki made the decision to get the 23andMe into the drug development business, all the while working behind the scenes for FDA approval.
Later that year, the company announced it would once again be able to start marketing genetic carrier tests and in April of this year, the company received the green light to offer 10 of those carrier tests, including for Parkinson’s and late-onset Alzheimer’s to customers.
While things are looking up for the company, there’s still a ways to go in scientific research and the winner in the consumer genetics race will be the company with the most accurate results. New genetic information surfaces all the time as more folks contribute to the process, adding to a mountain of data 23andMe must stay on the cutting-edge of.
The company, like many in the genetics field, has a diversity problem. Most of what we know about the human race comes from white, male, northern Europeans. Wojcicki has said in the past this is something she’d like to focus on.
We’ll talk about how she plans to get that data as she continues to grow the company, the many research projects and partnerships 23andMe is now involved with — including one very promising fertility research initiative with startup Celmatix — and where she sees the company going next at Disrupt SF 2017. Get tickets here!