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A Different Future

Rather than leading to personalized medicine, BuzzFeed News' Peter Aldhous writes that direct-to-consumer genetic testing has led to "Facebook for genes."

As he looks back over the last 10 years, Aldhous notes that the future he envisioned when firms like 23andMe were launching hasn't quite taken shape. 23andMe, for instance, said it aimed to democratize genetics and change healthcare. But he says that has been slow going, adding that there are more tests for pregnant women to check for fetal anomalies and people with cancer to guide treatment, though wider uptake across medicine has been lagging.

Instead, Aldhous writes that ancestry testing and using DNA to find connections among people has grown. In particular, genetic genealogy has not only connected distant relatives but also been applied to criminal cases, such as the Golden State Killer case, touching off discussion on genetic privacy.

But Aldhous adds that sales of DNA ancestry tests have slowed, leading firms like to now offer health tests. "Will this be the development that takes us back to the future I once imagined?" he writes. "Maybe so, but if the roller coaster of the past decade has taught me anything, it's to be wary about making any predictions about our genetic future."