The argument could be made that nothing has revolutionized health and wellness in recent years like genetic testing. In the past, you wouldn’t know what diet worked best for you, your predisposition to conditions such as obesity or high blood pressure or if you were a carrier of genetic mutations that could indicate an increased risk for diseases such as cancer. Finding the answers to those questions would take time, money and guesswork, and in certain cases you’d never find the answers you were looking for.
But the tremendous advances made in genomics has changed that, especially with the advent of at-home DNA tests that allow you to gain valuable knowledge about yourself and your health thanks to the accuracy of genetic testing. With this information, you can be more proactive about your health and wellness, making actionable changes to your habits and lifestyle based on your unique genetic profile.
The Evolution of Genetic Testing
The earliest discoveries in the field of genetics and how they could affect health care can be traced back all the way to the early 1900s, when it was determined that chromosomes—which carry our DNA—play a role in some inherited diseases. However, it wasn’t until the 1950s that tests were developed for certain hereditary medical conditions, and the earliest testing was mainly reserved for newborn screening or to confirm a genetic diagnosis. As scientists continued to learn more about how our genes work, genetic testing continued to advance. The biggest leap happened with the inception of the Human Genome Project.
In 1988, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences first announced its goal to, in effect, crack the code for human life by mapping, or sequencing, the 3 billion base pairs of DNA that make up the entire human genome. This effort eventually involved many research institutions both in America and around the world. In 2003, the Human Genome Project was declared complete. The rigorous science used to sequence the human genome is the basis for the accuracy of genetic testing.
The Revolution of Genetic Testing
The Human Genome Project has influenced the field of health care in many ways, but one of the most profound was that the entire human genome sequence was made available to the public, as are continuing scientific updates and discoveries. Essentially, this has given us “all the pages of a manual needed to make the human body,” according to the National Human Genome Research Institute. Genetic testing is a way to help us read the manual and understand how to use it to make the choices we need to live a healthier life.
While the proven science behind genomics helps answer the question of how accurate is genetic testing, there are also regulations and safeguards in place to help ensure a test’s validity. U.S. labs that perform DNA analysis must meet the federal Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) standards; labs such as Pathway Genomics can also be accredited by the College of American Pathologists. The federal standards are thorough, governing issues such as testing methods and quality control. This helps ensure genetic tests have analytical validity, which means they are accurate in finding genetic variants. Certain tests related to disease risk may also need clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Genetic testing companies should also make genetic counselors available to answer any questions or provide follow-up information on test results.
Because the human genome was made public, there have been numerous health-oriented genetic tests developed not just for use in a physician’s office, but also at-home tests marketed directly to consumers. Both kinds of tests have been growing in use in recent years as a way to develop a comprehensive wellness plan based on your specific genetic makeup.
While in the past medical professionals would use these tests to determine risks of genetic diseases, the scope of wellness DNA tests has expanded to analyze predispositions in areas such as diet, exercise, and skin care. Pathway Genomics offers these cutting-edge tests and several others, such as those targeted towards cardiac health and medication response for pain management or mental health conditions. You can order many of these tests directly and take your own DNA sample in the comfort of your own home, receiving a report within just a few weeks. Other tests need to be ordered by your medical provider, so the two of you can partner on using the results to make actionable choices on your wellness plan.
At Pathway Genomics, the accuracy of genetic testing is a paramount concern. We harness the science behind DNA, offer cutting-edge tests and perform the analysis in a state-of-the-art clinical laboratory, and provide guidance to you and your physician through our genetic counselors. We do all this to give you the accurate and precise results you need to make the most informed choices when it comes to your health and wellness. Genetic testing is revolutionizing health care, and you have the potential to transform your life by joining that revolution. Take the first step on a wellness journey tailored just for you, and learn more about Pathway Genomics today.