Performance of Genetic Testing Market in recent times?

Performance of Genetic Testing Market in recent times?

Genetic Testing Market – Overview

Genetic testing is a very powerful medical tool that serves the purpose of prediction and diagnosis of genetic disorders like cancer. But are the exorbitant costs associated with it warranted? What are the risks, if any, associated with knowing what your future holds for you?

What is Genetic testing in the simplest of terms?

Genetic testing is a test that is performed to check the human chromosome for possible mutations in the DNA. This test has found various applications in determining a child’s parentage, in the diagnosis of disorders and develop better treatments for the same.

Different versions of Genetic Testing Market:

There are over 2000 unique genetic tests that are currently available to be performed for various disorders. The different types of genetic tests can be widely classified into the following types:

Prenatal Testing: This test is done exclusively on the foetus and is performed before birth. It is done in the womb of the mother in specific cases where the parents are known to have a possible ancestry who suffer from various genetic disorders. It can also be used in the early diagnosis of conditions like Down’s syndrome.
New-born Screening: As is evident from the name, this test is primarily done right after birth to identify possible genetic disorders that the baby may have. Treatment of such conditions is most effective in early stages and so it is imperative that the possible problems be found as soon as possible. It is usually performed within 2 days of birth. The process is simple to carry out and all that is need is small amount if blood which can be collected as simply as from a small prick. Several disorders like Phenylkenonuria are the disorders usually tested for, wherein the lack of a single enzyme leads to the accumulation of metabolites that may lead to possible mental disorders. With the help of genetic disorder, one can identify the possible dangers and this early detection can help the doctors take the necessary steps to deal with the adverse effects. Some conditions if detected early can be treated simply by putting the child on a special diet.
Diagnostic Screening: This type of genetic test is usually with the sole purpose of being a confirmatory test. This test is usually performed when a disease has already been detected and the doctors want to carry out an accurate confirmatory test before beginning the treatment.
Carrier Screening: Genetic tests are also helpful in identifying people carrying a single copy of the mutated gene. Genetic diseases usually present itself when both copies of the mutated genes exist together. An example of this is colour blindness where both mutated existed chromosomes need to be present in women to make them colour blind. Whereas in the case of men, only one of the parents need to be a carrier due to men having just a single pair of x chromosome. Both pairs need to exist in the same genetic code for the disease to manifest itself. This test is an important part of tests that hopeful parents carry out to predict the risk of their child inheriting the disorder when one of the parents are known to have the mutated gene.
Predictive Screening: Whereas the previous mentioned tests are usually done on kids and young adults, predictive screening is performed on older people to determine to risks of them developing a disorder in the later stages of their lives. This helps because the test can figure out the chances of a disease before the symptoms present themselves. An example of this is to identify specific mutations that are known to increase the chances of a person developing cancer, in cases where there is a known family history of the disease.

What has changed all of a sudden?

Genetic testing has been around for quite a while now. So what has changed, why the sudden interest in the field? What has changed is the increased awareness among the general public of the possibilities of knowing well in advance the risks of developing life threatening diseases like cancer and thereby preventing them. One drawback of this scheme is that is only applicable for women have a history of cancer in their family. But statistics point out that only 1 in 10 women who develop breast cancer have had a history of breast cancer in their family. This means that more and more women are developing breast cancer with no prior history which is against popular notions. As such steps should be taken to make the tests available to all.

Risks of knowing your future

Though it may be argued that everyone will welcome an insight into his or her medical future so that they can take better decisions in seeking medical help or taking an insurance policy, there are numerous risks that come with it. Legal procedures demand that in the event that you request a health or life insurance after taking a genetic test, you have to reveal the test results on request of the company you approach. This in short is a gross breach of privacy and also makes people commodities for the insurance companies wherein some people are more attractive business prospects than others. And most cases insurance companies will be unwilling to provide specific insurance policies in cases of dangerous health conditions. A popular jargon that has come up due to the recent interest in genetic testing is ‘Genetic discrimination’ wherein a job or service is denied on the basis of one’s genetic test results. There are also no laws that protect you from being forced to disclose your test results and as such there is large scale discrimination being done on the basis of genetic testing.

How does the Genetic testing market look?

Myraid Genetics, Utah, USA was one of the first companies that offered to perform genetic testing for breast cancer. It was one of the most expensive tests they offered at $4000. This has changed since then and the monopoly has disappeared. Several companies, namely EasyDNA, 23andMe and Quest Diagnostics have come forward in providing cheaper versions of the test in the range of 200 to 400 USD and these tests are also delivered in a direct-to-customer format where the test can be taken in the comfort and privacy of one’s home. Other promising enterprises include the popular start-up Colour which is ready to invest money in the field to bring about much higher levels of automation thereby reducing the demand the costs even further. This will help in getting genetic testing market accessible to much larger sections of the population.

One disadvantage of the current procedure is that genes have to be sequenced one at a time and this is usually a time consuming procedure. This can simply be eliminated by using different analysis techniques such as implementing Next Generation Sequencing wherein DNA can be analysed in large segments rather than individually.  This is especially useful in predicting the chances of disease where multiple gene mutations are involved. As is the opinion of all doctors, a better diagnosis well in advance ensures better treatment.

Considering all the available facts one can conclude that time is ripe to invest in genetic testing market, not only in firms likes Roche and Life technologies who manufacture DNA sequencing machines that make genetic testing possible but also in companies like Colour, 23andMe and so on who produce the kits needed to carry out the tests. Some private investors have already identified the possibilities of the market well in advance, like Laurene Powell Job and Neil Woodford, and are investing heavily in it.

 
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