Icelandic genomics company deCODE Genetics has received a license to market direct-to-consumer genetic tests (such as the genome scan provided by daughter company deCODEme) in the state of California. This follows the regulatory crackdown by California’s public health department last June, which sent nervous ripples through the direct-to-consumer genetic testing industry.
Personal genomics rivals 23andMe and Navigenics both received their own licenses last August, and it’s unclear to me why it’s taken so long for deCODEme to follow suit (please feel free to speculate wildly in the comments).
In the press release, notoriously gruff deCODE CEO Kari Stefansson (pictured above) can’t resist a dig at his competitors:
Our competitors outsource the science, the DNA-analysis, or both. But
for us this is the real foundation of personalized medicine, and we are
committed to delivering only the best validated tests and the highest quality
results, all in-house.
The fact that deCODE performs its own (extremely high-quality) genetic research has always been the major point that deCODEme has tried to emphasise in the war to differentiate itself from its rivals. However, I don’t think it’s likely to be a major issue for the average consumer, who’s typically only interested in whether a personal genomics provider can explain the meaning of their genetic data in a clear, simple and accurate manner – something that generally seems to be done better by 23andMe.
23andMe doesn’t seem to have any trouble taking deCODE’s results and converting them into useful product for their own customers – in fact, one of the nerdier ways I sometimes amuse myself is to count the proportion of genetic associations featured on 23andMe’s blog The Spittoon that were generated by deCODE’s scientists (at the current time, 3 out of 10 posts on the front page feature deCODE’s work). I somehow suspect this game would strike Stefansson as less than hilarious.
(Hat tip: GenomeWeb.)