Sales pitch not science
In January 2005, GeneWatch issued a press release calling for Oxford University to withdraw its funding and support for a genetic test claimed to be related to nicotine addiction. The new test, NicoTest, was launched on 2nd December 2004 by g-Nostics Ltd, a 'spin out' company from Oxford University. Oxford University was one of g-Nostics' shareholders and g-Nostics said its claims were based on research by the University's scientists
Following our press release and briefing, the misleading claims made for the NicoTest genetic test on its website were substantially revised. The company's previous claims to improve quit rates were removed and, later, the website's reference to an "addiction gene" was also removed, as there is no evidence that the gene included in the test is linked to nicotine addiction or likelihood of smoking. Oxford University and Cancer Research Technology, which helped form G-Nostics, both decided to end their involvement with the company.
G-Nostics continued to market Nicotest and later claimed it had new evidence that its programme 'doubles' quit rates. This claim was based on an unpublished study, comparing results after 4 weeks with results from an NHS stop smoking service. However, the smokers in the study were people who volunteered via the Nicotest website, which was likely to bias the results.
In March 2011 G-Nostics went into administration and it was closed by end of January 2012.
Letter from University of Oxford
18th March 2005
Letter from Cancer Research Technology
23rd February 2005
Three reasons not to buy the NicoTestTM genetic test
7th January 2005
GeneWatch PR: A sales pitch not science - Oxford University attacked for marketing of misleading 'nicotine addiction' gene test
4th January 2005
Observer article - Scientists attack 'flawed' test for smoker's gene