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Genetics and genomics are increasingly in the news. People can buy genetic tests on the internet, without providing a medical reason or involving a health professional. But how useful is personal genetic health information, and are there any downsides to buying tests?

23andMe personal genetic test saliva collection kit, with tube, box and instructions

An Oxford Science Blog written by Dr Liz Ormondroyd

I am a researcher in the Radcliffe Department of Medicine at the University of Oxford, and a genetic counsellor working with patients with inherited cardiac disease and their families. I see at first hand the benefits of genetic testing in the NHS, but also the variety of questions people want to discuss before going ahead with a test.

Buying a ‘direct to consumer’; (DTC) genetic test is different from an NHS genetic test in many ways, so when the UK Parliament announced an inquiry into Commercial genomics in 2019, I submitted written evidence along with many health professionals and academics, commercial providers and other interested parties.

The ‘Research & Public Policy Partnership’ scheme opened in late 2019 and seemed a good opportunity to start to build a programme of research that would have policy input from the start, ensuring its relevance for policy. The University Policy Engagement Team suggested approaching Dr Peter Border at the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST).  Together with a General Practice and ethicist colleague, Dr Andrew Papanikitas, we put together a proposal outlining how we would work together and what we wanted to achieve.

Read the full blog on the University of Oxford website.

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