New Consumer Test for Celiac Disease

The company 23anMe has been offering genetic screening direct to the consumerfor several years. The company  over-reached its bounds when initially it claimed to predict diseases such as cancer.  The FDA ruled that it was not an approved medical device. In addition, genetic findings need to be interpreted by an expert. Simply having a gene or a set of genes does not mean that disease is inevitable. In addtion,not all of the genes responsible for a disease is known. What is known is that if a person does not have certain genes associated with Celiac, they will be 99% assured of not developing Celiac. So, recently the FDA has approved the 23andMe  test to rule out Celiac Disease. The cost of the test has been reduced from its original cost of $299. to $99. which makes it more popular with consumers.

There are several genes known to put a person at risk for Celiac Disease. These genes are part of the genetic code for the body's immunological system.  Having the genes, does not mean that Celiac is in your future. It simply means that there is a genetic possibility. Forty percent of the population carries those genes but on 1-3% develop Celiac Disease. What triggers the disease process in some but not others, is the subject of intense research. However, the converse is true. If you do not have the gene, you are not going to develop Celiac.  So, the test is a "rule out" diagnosis.  No genes = no Celiac.  This test is useful for those at high risk.  These include those with a first-degree relative with Celiac. There would also be an application for someone on a self-prescribed gluten-free diet who has not been tested. A person already on a gluten-free diet cannot be tested by the usual means which detects specific antibodies for gluten. However, it they do not carry the gene, then they can rule out Celiac as a cause of their symptoms.  On the other hand, if they do have the gene, it only means that there is a possibilty of developing the disease.  These folks should consult their physician on how to proceed and share the results of their 23anMe testing.  It would also be useful for those considering eliminating gluten from their diet. If they do not have the gene, Celiac is not the cause of their symptoms.