May 27, 2009

Consumer genetics concerning scientists

Some U.S. scientists say the current marketing trend for consumer genetics products by various companies is potentially problematic.

Dr. Isaac Kohane, a professor at Harvard Medical School, said with some companies focusing product and service offerings in the field of genetics, he is concerned there could be a backlash, The Boston Globe reported Wednesday.

What has happened is some of these companies have cribbed from our sheets about where we hope to be going, and they've turned that into their business plans for where we are now, Kohane said. It does hurt us ... . All you need is sufficient disappointing, if not dangerous, outcomes or horrible outcomes for enthusiasm for funding "¦ to decrease.

Dr. Robert Green, a Harvard Medical School genetics fellow, agreed companies offering genetics-based products or services could prove dangerous if those goods fail to deliver on their promised results.

Many of us in genetics think this is one of the greatest dangers to the field -- that the legitimate field of genetics will be overwhelmed by a kind of popular pseudoscience that will delegitimize and confuse the actual scientific potential, he told the Globe.