(BPT) - When you think of genetics, what comes to mind? You may recall learning how your family genetics may determine your eye and hair color, height and other physical traits. But your genetic makeup goes beyond appearance - it can help you make more informed decisions about your health.
Knowing your genetic profile can help you understand what diseases you might be at higher risk of developing. Combined with blood testing - which reveals how your health stands today - genetic testing is a powerful tool you can use to help create a prevention-focused health care plan tailored just for you.
In an effort to merge advanced genetic testing with preventive clinical care, 23andMe has launched a health membership that provides a more complete picture of your health, called 23andMe+ Total Health™.
The new health service is a comprehensive, prevention-based membership, combining clinical-grade genetic exome sequencing, biannual blood testing and ongoing access to clinicians with unique knowledge in genetics-based care.
'We're bringing the power of genetics into your personal health care journey,' said 23andMe's Vice President of Genomic Health, Noura Abul-Husn, M.D., Ph.D. 'We're offering comprehensive genetic testing - including exome sequencing - to help you understand your disease risks, blood testing to check on your current health status and what we need to monitor going forward, and access to clinicians with unique expertise to guide your next steps.'
What is exome sequencing?
There are many types of genetic testing. Historically, 23andMe has offered reports using genotyping technology, a powerful, efficient and accurate way to examine DNA variants at certain pre-identified positions in the genome.
Sequencing is a method used to determine the exact sequence of a certain length of DNA. You can sequence a short piece, the whole genome, or parts of the genome such as the 'exome,' which are the regions of the genome that contain the instructions for making proteins. Using exome sequencing, 23andMe provides members with a more complete picture, surfacing many genetic variants known to be associated with disease risk.
As a medical geneticist, Dr. Abul-Husn wants people to understand how their genetic information is connected to their health and empower them to use that knowledge to stay healthy.
'We don't typically see genetics being used this way in health care, but it can and should. It's about prevention,' Dr. Abul-Husn said.
Healthcare focused on preventing disease
What does 23andMe+ Total Health offer? Members will receive clinician-ordered genetic testing that looks deeper into high-impact genes associated with 55+ health conditions that, if detected early, may have effective preventive measures and clinical interventions. This includes all genes considered medically actionable by the American College of Medical Genetics (ACMG) and under-diagnosed hereditary conditions related to cancer, cardiovascular, metabolic, kidney, neurological and other health conditions.
By signing up for 23andMe+ Total Health, you'll also receive biannual blood testing that goes beyond routine labs, measuring blood sugar levels, kidney, liver and thyroid function, cholesterol and advanced lipoprotein levels. Blood testing is initiated by a clinician, and members will complete their testing through a local lab offered by a third-party provider.
Finally, your membership connects you to clinicians with training in genetics who review your blood biomarkers, genetic data and personal and family medical history to provide personalized risk assessments and help build a tailored preventive health plan. You can also set up an annual virtual clinician consultation and have ongoing messaging conversations about your reports, health progress and any questions you may have.
23andMe+ Total Health is available for new customers, and will be offered to existing 23andMe customers as an upgrade in the spring of 2024. The membership costs $99 per month, billed in a one-time annual payment. It's available for those 18+ in the US (excluding Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma and Rhode Island). To learn more about how you can harness the power of your genetics, visit 23andMe.com/Total-Health.