Dermatological Genetic Testing: At a Store Near You

Yesterday I blogged about expensive and not-necessarily-useful genetic tests. Today I stumbled across a much cheaper genetic test being sold retail. I’m hanging out at Ryerson University in Toronto, today, and giving a talk here tomorrow on bioengineered foods. At a drugstore around the corner I happened to spot the test pictured above.

Here’s the company’s website: dermaDNA

Now for the first time, dermaDNA can help you understand how your skin ages, how much it has aged prematurely, and what you can do to give yourself a more youthful appearance.

With its patented Cellular DNA Assessment Test, dermaDNA will measure your skin cell DNA damage and provide you with a personalized product regime designed to repair and protect. Increased elasticity plus a reduction in wrinkling, hyperpigmentation and skin cell DNA damage equals younger, healthier- looking skin. And it all takes place on the cellular level.

Here in Toronto the test kit sells for $160. It apparently includes the tools to take one swab of the bridge of your nose (to test for genetic damage already done by the sun) and one swab of the inside of your cheek (to test for a gene associated with susceptibility to skin cancer). Just mail the swabs away to the company, and get test results back in about 2 weeks. The results are presumably intended to guide consumers in their decisions about exposure to UV-rays (from sunlight) and in their decisions about purchasing dermaDNA’s own line of skin care products.

I can’t speak to just how informative this genetic test is (i.e., whether the test result is likely to point to health-related advice other than what everyone is already being told by dermatologists). But at least it’s not terribly expensive, and the marketing doesn’t rely on fear-mongering.

One further note. Some genetic testing companies are using consumer-oriented testing as a way of gathering genetic samples from a large population, to build a commercially valuable database. In some cases, consumers may not be aware that that’s the case. Not so with this product. In the Frequently Asked Questions section of the company’s website, it says:

Your DNA will be stored at the lab for quality control and independent auditing purposes for up to 6 months. After that time it will be destroyed, according to stringent FDA-established operating procedures.

1 comment so far

  1. Marie on

    This is a very good way to push dermaDNA’s own skincare line. Obviously tests will show some skin damage as it is impossible to avoid sun during your life span and even relatively young people develop so-called “brown spots” only visible on a special apparatus and detectible through DNA testing. Is it OK to use modern technology to push products and cover up by saying that it will help patients to better care for their skin. I’m very skeptical of their proposed intent.
    Marianna Klevchuk, RN

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