Can I use my ancestry genetic test results to get a Pillcheck report?
Ancestry genetic testing is a great introduction to genetics for many people. Direct-to-consumer ancestry tests can predict how much Neanderthal DNA you’ve inherited or that your eyes are blue rather than brown. These tests are entertaining, affordable and have changed the relationship we have with our DNA.
Customers who order ancestry tests, such as those offered by 23andme and Ancestry.com, have the option to download their genetic data. Data can then be further analyzed using web-based tools, such as Promethease. Yet it is important to keep in mind that these data are not always accurate. A study published in the journal Genetics in Medicine found that downloaded genetic data can be wrong 40% of the time when used to predict disease risk.
In general, a genetic test looks for DNA variants. These variants are the reason why some people have curly hair or hate cilantro or metabolize certain drugs faster. The DNA variants included in a genetic test depends on the genetic testing company and the goals of the test.
A specialized genetic test will often focus on one gene, or category of genes, in more detail. Medical tests, such as those that thoroughly examine the breast and ovarian cancer-related genes BRCA1/2, are one example.
The technology used for genetic testing can also differ depending on the goals of the test and the level of detail required. Two main types of testing technologies are available commercially: sequencing and genotyping. Ancestry genetic tests commonly use genotyping, which is different from sequencing.
Sequencing reads each letter of your DNA, determining the exact code your cells use to build proteins. Sequencing can be better at finding very rare variants that cause disease. Medical genetic tests will often use sequencing for this reason.
Sequencing your entire genome – all 23 pairs of chromosomes – is considered the holy grail of genetic testing but can be expensive. A decade ago, sequencing a human genome cost $300,000. In 2011, Steve Jobs paid $100,000 for his genome sequence. As sequencing technologies rapidly advance, costs have decreased. Today, you can have your genome sequenced for as little as $1000-$2000 depending on your desired level of quality. Another option is to sequence smaller, more select parts of your genome – such as individual genes of medical interest.
Genotyping can also examine an entire human genome but works differently from sequencing. Instead of reading your exact DNA sequence, genotyping looks at pre-selected variants in specific locations.
At 23andMe, a genotyping DNA chip scans 600,000 or so variants to provide a “big-picture” of the individual. Ancestry tests sometimes tend to overlook rarer genetic variants that impact disease risk or medication response.
Other types of genotyping tests can be more focused. Some tests focus on variants found in a specific area of the genome, or on a category of genes (such as drug metabolism genes).
Pillcheck focuses directly on the genes that impact drug response, with many more variants covered per gene. A Pillcheck genetic test includes rare, ethnicity-specific variants that are sometimes missed by other tests. For this reason, ancestry genetic data is not always compatible with Pillcheck.
Testing more drug-response variants means a greater number of medications can be included in your report. Currently, Pillcheck tests 88 variants that predict drug response and reports 179 (and counting) common medications.
Data privacy is another important consideration with any type of genetic testing. With Pillcheck, your DNA sample is destroyed within 30 days after completion of the test, and your data is never re-sold to third parties. Ancestry genetic tests are typically priced lower because your genetic information is used for research in collaboration with big pharma companies.
If you are experiencing side effects from medication, Pillcheck can help identify intolerances to certain drugs based on your genetics. Each Pillcheck test is reviewed by an expert clinical pharmacist. In addition to your Pillcheck report, you will also receive a pharmacist opinion letter that will provide advice on how to change your treatment. A pharmacist opinion letter makes getting the most out of your Pillcheck report easier since doctors are often reluctant to use the results of Direct-to-Consumer tests due to lack of specific training to interpret this type of data.
Pillcheck reports are continuously updated as scientific research becomes available, offering lifetime value.
To learn more visit www.Pillcheck.ca