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Genetics in Healthcare

The South by Southwest conference this year is turning a bit toward healthcare, the Wall Street Journal reports. It is hosting a number of panel discussions delving into "the role of technology in wellness and a business-pitch competition for makers of personal health apps and gadgets."

23andMe's Anne Wojcicki told conference-goers that genetics is going to become an important part of daily life and preventive medicine, and it could lead to lower healthcare costs, the Guardian reports.

"The principle is that genetic information is the basis for personalized medicine —you don't want to [give] your child Benadryl on an overnight flight to Europe if you know that it will make them hyper," she said. "Knowing your genetic health risks will help you make better decisions."

Wojcicki noted, though, that signups with 23andMe have fallen since the US Food and Drug Administration sent the company a letter in November directing it to stop marketing its spit test and health interpretation service until it receives authorization.

"It has slowed up the number of people signing up," she said, adding that "[w]e've had a lot of ups and downs but we have lots of tenacity to push on through. It will take time money and effort to figure out the path forward." That, the Guardian notes, includes getting the test cleared as a medical device.