ACTN3 sports gene test is a con!

Gene ExpressionBy Razib KhanNov 30, 2008 6:03 PM


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I was waiting for Dan MacArthur to comment on the "ACTN3 sports gene" story because I knew he had done research on this very locus. As usual, he's rather diplomatic, with a post titled The ACTN3 sports gene test: what can it really tell you?. He says:

Kevin Fischer has already noted that from a pure cost-benefit point of view the ATLAS test doesn't compete with the offerings of personal genomics companies. ATLAS will charge you $150 for testing ACTN3; for just $250 more, you get genetic information pertaining to more than 90 different conditions and traits from 23andMe. Neither test is likely to change your life (the predictive power of most current genetic tests using common markers is extremely low), but if you're interested enough in recreational genetics to fork out for an ACTN3 test you might as well spend a little extra to get information on a bunch of other traits at the same time.

Remember those astrology infomercials on TV? "For entertainment purposes only!" Over the next few years many firms will piggy-back on the cultural prestige of science to make a quick buck. It seems the banal CW that new technology is oversold in the short term but underappreciated over the long term applies here. The new applied genetics (i.e., "personal genomics) will be seamlessly integrated into our lives in 10-20 years, but right now there's not much value-add for purchasing kits which tell people that they are European or have blue eyes.

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