Summary of The Rise and Fall and Rise Again of 23andMe

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More and more individuals are ordering personal genetic test kits to check for ancestral baldness or threads of familial illness. Despite setbacks, Anne Wojcicki’s company 23andMe continues to lead the direct-to-consumer market for genetic testing. Having thus amassed a treasure trove of data, the company also uses the data to develop new pharmaceutical products and gene-based therapies. The firm has bristled at complying with US Food and Drug Administration regulations and faced scientific scrutiny, and yet the company is carving out a stubborn success story. Science journalist Erika Check Hayden illuminates the origins, tribulations and ambitious goals of 23andMe and paints a lively portrait of the company’s determined leader. getAbstract recommends this article to anyone interested in pharmaceutical innovations, to the health care sector and to those with a fondness for start-up stories with gutsy protagonists.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How the market of direct-to-consumer genetic testing developed,
  • How researchers use 23andMe’s data for drug development and
  • Why the US Food and Drug Administration temporarily barred 23andMe from selling testing kits.
 

About the Author

Erika Check Hayden is a science journalist in San Francisco, California.

 

Summary

What were the initial challenges for genomics company 23andMe?

Anne Wojcicki and colleagues started 23andMe in 2006 to market detailed genetic testing directly to consumers. Knowing their genetic background would allow customers to explore personal ancestry and to make better-educated health decisions. Investment money poured into 23andMe, and hundreds of thousands of people ordered genetic profiles. Soon the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began to probe the validity of the test results and worried that people might misinterpret their genetic health risks and make rash decisions. The company was hesitant to cooperate with the FDA and, as a result, the regulators ordered 23andMe to stop selling test kits in 2013. Although 23andMe was still able to offer a limited number of products, the ban threatened the company’s existence and forced Wojcicki to overhaul her strategy and approach to legal requirements. In April 2017, the FDA allowed 23andMe to test customers’ genetic predisposition for 10 health conditions.


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