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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Washington: People Using Third-party Apps to Analyze Personal Genetic Data

The burgeoning field of personal genetics appeals to people who want to learn more about themselves, their family and their propensity for diseases. More and more consumers are using services like 23andMe to learn about their genetic blueprint.

Included with most of these services is the ability for users to download their “raw” genetic data, which can be further analyzed using third-party apps. But little is known about how and why consumers are using these apps, or about a variety of potential risks associated with these apps.

“It’s the proverbial ‘wild West’ of genetic interpretation,” said Dr. Sarah Nelson, a University of Washington research scientist in the Department of Biostatistics who recently completed her doctorate in the School of Public Health. She’s the lead author of a new paper published June 13 in The American Journal of Human Genetics.

The team surveyed more than 1,000 people who had paid to obtain their genetic profile through a service like 23andMe or AncestryDNA. Most respondents reported that they downloaded data and went on to use a third-party application like Promethease or GEDmatch.

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