UPDATE : Monday, June 1, 2020
'DTC genetic testing service providers should improve quality of information'
  • By Lee Han-soo
  • Published 2019.11.14 15:27
  • Updated 2019.11.14 15:27
  • comments 0

The direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing market has grown exponentially over the past few years, but simple price competitiveness has explicit limitations in attracting the interest of consumers to genetic analysis, an industry expert said.

Nebula Genomics CEO Kamal Obbad calls for the DTC genetic test industry to change for survival, during the "Healthcare Innovation Forum 2019" at Westin Chosun Seoul on Thursday.

Nebula Genomics CEO Kamal Obbad made these and other points during the "Healthcare Innovation Forum 2019" organized by the Korea Health Industry Development Institute on Thursday.

"More than 40 million Americans have experienced genetic analysis in some forms. It has been so popular that a DTC genetic testing kit became one of the most popular gifts to friends and acquaintances last year," Obbad said. “However, most people only use genetic analysis to know about their family tree, and the industry has yet to resolve concerns about personal information security, Obbad added.

According to Obbad, such limited applications are leading to a decline in consumer interest in genetic analysis.

"These issues have led to slowing the growth of the DTC personal genomics market. Consumers want data privacy, affordability, and more value," Obbad said. "To keep the growth, consumers must have sovereignty over their information while companies have to provide deeper levels of genetic analysis."

The Nebula CEO noted that while a complete gene analysis cost billions of dollars in the past, people can receive the test under $1000 these days.

"It's still a high cost, but consumers are additionally concerned about the possibility of personal information leakage and the shallowness of the information provided by genetic analysis is," he said. "Even if the test gives a user that he has a high probability of dementia in the future, consumers themselves don't feel that the information is useful to them for now. Merely identifying possible outbreaks and identifying family lineages are not enough to appeal to consumers.”

To resolve this problem, Obbad stressed that the industry has to lower costs further, ensure privacy, and the in-depth use of genetic data.

"To this end, Nebula has a long-term plan to offer full gene analysis for less than $40," Obbad said. "The industry also has to connect patients and consumers with researchers and drive genomic data sharing by ensuring equitable compensation, transparency, and security."

Stressing that Nebula Genomics is not just a database but a genomic data sharing network, Obbad said his company has efficient engagement and on-demand data generation enabled by a patient and consumer-centric model while reducing the regulatory risks due to data ownership by individuals and the use of privacy-preserving technologies.

“Genetic big data is essential for genetic research, and to secure big data, it is necessary to think about consumers and expand digital accessibility," Obbad said. "Therefore, good data, good research, and good accessibility are needed."


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