Genetic Health (Harley Street)

A recent Guardian report is highly critical of gene tests sold by Harley Street company Genetic Health. An accompanying article explains why gene tests should be regulated.

In 2007, GeneWatch UK has asked the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to investigate the genetic tests being marketed by the UK company Genetic Health, but the MHRA has failed to act to prevent the company from making misleading claims about people's genetic risk of various diseases, including cancer. Read our evidence here.

GeneWatch found that:

  • For most genes included in the tests, no large-scale evidence is available to conclusively establish a relationship between the common genetic variant identified (called a 'polymorphism') and the claimed disease.
  • For several genes included in the tests, large-scale evidence suggests that the association between the genetic variant and increased risk of a particular condition is invalid.
  • Reliable evidence that the tests are useful to decide who should take what lifestyle advice, medicines or further tests is not available for any of the genes included in the tests.

The MHRA currently makes no assessment of the claims made for genetic tests before they are marketed, including whether or not the gene has anything to do with the claimed disease, how important it is in a person's overall risk and whether or not people with or without the gene should follow different medical advice.

The British Society of Human Genetics has made a formal complaint to ITV about its programme "The Killer in Me" which failed to explain the limitations of the tests.

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