Science | January 11, 2022 6:52 am

FDA Approves 23andMe’s Prostate Cancer Marker Test

What else could home genetic tests show us?

23andMe logo
In this photo illustration, 23andMe logo is seen on a smartphone and a pc screen in the background.
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In the beginning, at-home genetic tests allowed you to learn more about where your ancestors originally came from — and possibly connected with a few previously-unknown relatives along the way. Soon, you might be able to use the same kinds of tests to learn about your risk for prostate cancer — information that you could then use to make more educated decisions about your personal health.

That’s one of the primary takeaways from an announcement made by the genetics testing company 23andMe this week. The FDA just approved a genetic health risk report provided by the company on prostate cancer — specifically, one that tests for the G84E mutation on the HOXB13 gene.

Studies have shown that the presence of this mutation can lead to an increased risk of prostate cancer — and that it can develop earlier in life than in people without it.

As The Verge notes in an article on the FDA’s approval, this is 23andMe’s third FDA approval for a health risk report for cancer. This report is not yet available to customers, but 23andMe notes in their announcement that it will be made available to eligible customers “as soon as it is ready for release.”

The FDA’s decision demonstrates the way in which at-home genetic tests have changed their scope over the years. Could spitting in a tube help your health in the long term? We might be reaching that point.