23andMe: Could mass DNA testing change health care?

(CBS News) A simple genetic test could show whether you're likely to get a serious disease, and it only costs $99. The test is the brainchild of Anne Wojcicki, the founder of 23andMe, a genetic testing company.

23andMe believes genetic testing can make all of us healthier. The process is simple. The company has users spit into a cup and then sends the sample for testing. They are able to look for more than 250 health conditions and traits. The results cover everything from lactose intolerance to Alzheimer's disease.

"The 23andMe test is one of the first of a whole new generation of genetic tests that are going to look at huge amounts of your DNA and are going to tell you a lot more about what's in your genes than we could ever know before," said New York Times science columnist Carl Zimmer.

(Watch more about the background of the 23andMe test at left)

In May, genetic testing made headlines when Angelina Jolie revealed she had a double mastectomy after doctors told her she tested positive for the same gene mutation that killed her mother.

23andMe has more than 400,070 customers, but the goal is tens of millions. The company wants users to be able share their genetic information with researchers. The idea is that medical research can then be crowdsourced.

The potentially huge amount of genetic data gathered could lead to rapid advances in curing multiple diseases, but there are also concerns about privacy and the possible downside of having too much information about your genetic fate.

"I think people need to approach this with their eyes wide open, understanding the risks but willing to learn because this is the direction that medicine is going to go in the future," said Zimmer.

Wojcicki told the "CBS This Morning" co-hosts that making the decision to know more about your genetic fate is a "personal choice."

"I think that, for all of us, we all want to live to be as healthy as possible, and so one of the goals that I have is to be what I say healthy at 100," she said. "I don't want to be effectively managed at 100. I don't want to be, you know, well-treated. I actually want to be healthy, and what your genome does is it's actually a road map for you to understand what are the things that you could potentially do to be as healthy as possible."

Wojcicki said that her ultimate goal is for people to be able to go to their doctor's office and have their physicians be able to make real predictions about their health based on the data, similar to being targeted at a retail store.

"If you think about every time you go into the grocery store, or you go into a Wal-Mart or Target, they're collecting data on you," she said. "You walk in, and they can effectively target you."

She said that 23andMe hopes to have a million people's data by the end of 2013 in order to make a major impact on the health care system.

"A million people walking around with their genomes, I believe, is disruptive to the heath care system," she said. "I think you're going to have people walking into their physician's offices knowing information about their genome, and I think that is going to be the catalyst to really start to get people thinking about prevention and getting genetics into the mainstream of health care."

For Anne Wojcicki's full interview, watch the video in the player above.

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