A market in the making: the past, present and future of direct-to-consumer genomics

02 Oct 2017

It is just over two decades since a small start-up firm called University Diagnostics launched a mail-order genetic testing service in the UK in 1996. That same year, the US-based Genetics and IVF Institute began marketing its BRCA tests for breast and ovarian cancer directly to consumers via newspaper ads. Two years later, Myriad Genetics (by then the sole provider of BRCA testing in the USA) launched a consumer advertising campaign that encompassed TV, radio and popular magazines (Parthasarathy 2007). By 2001, when UK nutrigenetics firm Sciona began marketing to consumers via its website, a new trend was emerging: the growth of the direct-to-consumer genetic testing (DTCGT) market was now interlinked with the increasing use of the internet as a medium for retail shopping. Genetics was beginning to move out of the clinic and into the marketplace.