At-home personal genomics kits are available and affordable, but how relevant are the results?
In Gattaca’s opening scene, a doctor predicts, at the time of Ethan Hawke’s character Vincent’s birth, the likelihood that Vincent will suffer from a variety of diseases (“Manic depression: 42% probability…Heart disorder: 99% probability”), and determines his life expectancy to be 30.2 years.
While monthly flights to the moon and dating Uma Thurman remain science fiction (or science fantasy) for most, this type of genetic palm reading is now entering the realm of modern-day reality. You can get “sequenced” on the cheap, and at home, with personal genomics – retailed kits that provide users, after they’ve sent a saliva sample back to the company for analysis, with a range of personal genetic information.
But, as in Gattaca, where Vincent beats the odds of his genetic “fate,” a question remains: How useful and predictive are the results of these personal genome tests? Some doctors say the results are not as relevant as one might think.