Experts skeptical of 23andMe’s new test for assessing diabetes risk

Direct-to-consumer DNA testing company 23andMe announced that it will start offering to gauge people’s risk for diabetes based on their genetic profile, but experts are skeptical of the accuracy and usefulness of this new assessment, according to reports.

The company said it will use polygenic risk scores, which measure a person’s risk for certain diseases based on genetic information spread across a person’s genome, to let consumers know whether they have an average risk of developing diabetes or an increased risk of developing it. According to a March 8, 2019 MIT Tech Review article, only people who have the highest risk of developing diabetes will be provided with the odds of them actually developing the disease.

“I think it’s a huge experiment,” said Peter Kraft, professor of epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “You’re rolling it out to millions of people, but there is a lot we don’t know.”

Read the MIT Tech Review article: 23andMe thinks polygenic risk scores are ready for the masses, but experts aren’t so sure