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European Journal of Human Genetics | 21.11.12

The European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC) and the Federation of European Academies of Medicine (FEAM) have published a paper in the European Journal of Human Genetics (EJHG) on their joint report "Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Testing".


Direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing services raise scientific, regulatory and ethical questions. A report was prepared by consultation with an expert Working Group and published by the academies of science (European Academies of Science Advisory Council, EASAC) and medicine (Federation of European Academies of Medicine, FEAM). This report reviews current scientific evidence, ascertains the principles that should underpin the options for action by policy-makers, and discusses the potential for devising proportionate and flexible regulation that enables future innovation, taking account of the work of other expert groups, most notably the European Society of Human Genetics. EASAC–FEAM concluded that DTC genetic testing has little clinical value at present, and expresses especial caution in several specific respects, for example relating to testing for high penetrance, serious disorders, prenatal screening, nutrigenomic and pharmacogenetic testing. It was emphasised that regulation must be on the basis that claims about the link between genetic marker and disease are scientifically valid. Other key issues to address include quality assurance (that includes the professional interpretation of results), transparent supply of accurate information, consideration of the implications for established health services, and clarification of consent procedures for any use of data for research purposes. There are important implications: for the European Commission, in revising the Directive on In Vitro Diagnostic Medical Devices; for professional bodies, in supporting training and guideline development; for the broader research community, in generating the evidence base; and for the public health community, in improving the routine translation of research advances into clinical practice.


Robin Fears, Volker ter Meulen, for the EASAC–FEAM Working Group and Participants in the Working Group were: Stefania Boccia, Martina Cornel, Marc Delpech, Anne De Paepe, Xavier Estivill, Mats Hansson, Katia Karalis, Andres Metspalu, Markus Nöthen, Peter Propping, Jorge Sequeiros, Ron Zimmern, Volker ter Meulen (Chair), Robin Fears (secretariat).