True, personalised DNA testing is still way in the future

DN
Image credit | ktsimage

There is as much hype about personalised DNA testing as there is about Quantum Computing. Many would say there are outright lies. They do, however, share one feature – they are both a long way off.

There are, of course, variations of DNA testing that are incredibly useful, such as placing suspected criminals at crime scenes.

There are others that are almost criminal in themselves.

There is a fashion to have your DNA tested so that you can tell if you are, for instance, Scottish and belong to a certain clan. Many people (particularly in the US) do these tests and believe that only people with, say, MacDonald DNA are MacDonalds. What they fail to realise is that Scotland is as much a mixture of races as the US. It all just happened earlier in history.

If the tests were accurate, most people would be able to prove they belonged to almost any clan they could mention.

At best, according the one of the chief scientists at Pfizer, the sort of tests that are being touted by a range of start-ups and family tree ‘specialists’ are ‘quite good entertainment’. It will be another 10 years or so before ‘home’ DNA tests can tell you anything other than the fact that you have Irish or Scottish DNA – and possibly some Italian. At the very best, and in a proper laboratory, you could identify your grandfather.

Yet the promises around this form of ‘entertainment’ boast of being able to tell whether you are allergic to peanuts or prone to depression and the number of start-ups is growing as fast as their claims and promises. And some of their claims and promises are so fake and misleading as to be dangerous.

While the hype around DNA testing is spiralling out of control, at least the hype around ‘designer babies’ has been exposed as something that, if it is ever possible, is still a long way in the future.

It is possible, at about the time that we are reflecting on how we thought 5G was quite cool (and laughing) as we blink at our quantum computers and teleport to Sydney, that personalised DNA testing will be a ‘thing’, along with designing your own child.

But we have to accept that most of the things we think of as just around the corner are simply not.

Except climate change, of course.

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