Opinion

23andMe Opens Up Health Shop in the UK


Followers of the personal genomics fields will have known that not long ago the FDA decided to shut down the health side of 23andMe, describing it as unreliable. As a 23andMe customer based in the UK, there hasn’t been a big splash nor I have been notified of a little difference: that now when I go to the 23andMe website, I am redirected to a UK site, and what is more, the health as well as ancestry services are provided for sale, contrary to what is offered in the US.

Welcome page to 23andMe's website if accessed from the UK. Note the ".co.uk" and the price in GBP.

Welcome page to 23andMe’s website if accessed from the UK. Note the “.co.uk” and the price in GBP.

I think that, overall, this is good news to the personal genomics crowd. At least some of us believe that even if hardly any big inferences can normally be made from the information we get, still, it is nice to be able to play with one’s own genetic data. Some people get really scared when I say the word ‘play’. “Human genetics is not a game” I have been told, yet, I do not see any better way to understand what is coming in the health field than by giving people the chance to explore their own genetic data.

At least in the UK, and while the local authorities decide it is still legal to sell this in the country, we are going to have a certain time of ‘golden genomics’. Following the great hype from Genomics England, its great development of sequencing 100,000 people through the British National Health System, and now this little perk of being able to buy complete 23andMe kits with health information included, will certainly boost the field, at least locally. Interesting times ahead.

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