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Image representing 23andMe as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase


Well, not those jeans… your genes.


I saw an article on Drudge the other day – yeah, I peruse it – that effectively was nothing more than a huge advertisement write-up.  Journalists shilling?!  You don’t say…  the mainstream media’s been shilling for the ideological socio-political left for decades… but I digress…


Anyhow, the article was about a company that’s trying to make genetic testing cheap and accessible.  23andMe.  $99 for a test that typically runs several hundred dollars.  Few people get their genes decoded for that reason, as well as the fact that quite often the test results only look for and/or find just a few things.  This test looks to do more with less money and who knows, they might succeed.  However…


The long game here is not to make money selling kits, although the kits are essential to get the base level data,” says Patrick Chung, a 23andMe board member and partner at the venture-capital firm NEA. “Once you have the data, [the company] does actually become the Google of personalized health care.” Genetic data on a massive scale is likely to be an extremely valuable commodity to pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, and even governments. This is where the real growth potential is.” … “”I want 25 million people. Once you get 25 million people, there’s just a huge power of what types of discoveries you can make. Big data is going to make us all healthier. What kind of diet should certain people be on? Are there things people are doing that make them really high-risk for cancer? There’s a whole group of people who are 100-plus and have no disease. Why?” As of September, 23andMe had 400,000 genotyped customers. It’s betting on quite an impressive fourth quarter.


See, the idea is that people will want to take this test for their own well-being or for the well-being of their children.  We all want to be healthy, right?  And, knowing what our body is susceptible to or will likely happen to us medically in the future could help us make changes to alter, stop or at least slow those maladies.  In theory.  But something like this, especially when the intent is to turn it into a huge database, is just asking for abuse.


The overriding take away for me is that if this company manages to take off, it could spur competition and interest – interest is their hope.  What if the price goes lower?  Now, not only do you have governments interested but insurance companies.  What’s to stop it from staying an elective choice to a requirement?  And from there, used as a basis not just to “keep you healthy” but to determine what level of care you should or should not get?  Theoretically a nation and a business wants strong, healthy customers/citizens, but we forget that there’s a bell curve mindset underlying it all.  Yes, focus on the healthy, the productive, the wanted and needed, but at the expense or lack of interest in those who are not or will not be healthy, productive, wanted or needed.  In an effort to streamline, to cut corners, costs and efficiency, just as with single payer, I feel it’s not just a matter of if, but when and we will be left with little option.