Ancestry.com is in early talks with the US Food and Drug Administration about expanding its service to include genetic carrier status reports and estimates of disease risk, the Verge reports.
Ancestry.com's main focus has been genealogy, helping customers trace their roots, and the company launched its AncestryDNA service to gauge users' ethnic and geographic origins based on their genes in 2012.
But lately, the Verge notes that Ancestry.com has become more and more interested in health. It signed a deal with Calico, the Google-backed company interested in longevity, in July.
Ancestry CEO Tim Sullivan tells the Verge that its conversations with FDA are in the very early stages. "We think it's totally appropriate that the FDA has stepped in to pretty aggressively regulate direct-to-consumer genetic tests — and we're just starting from that perspective, and trying to work very closely with them," he adds.
Indeed, 23andMe offered such health-related DTC genetic testing until 2013 when FDA told it to cease its sales because the agency had concerns regarding the test's validity for some of its intended uses.
"That's the kind of controversy that Ancestry now hopes to avoid," the Verge says. "But doing so will be an uphill battle; Ancestry's biggest challenge by far will be to prove that the genetic health information they want to give consumers has value — and isn't putting people at risk."