Answer from: Douglas Lester, PhD, MSc, BSc (Hons)
For our company, Fertility Genomics, we provide a simple DNA spit kit test, which comes in this package here and contains a simple funnel on a tube with a solution. All the patient has to do is spit in the funnel as long as it’s attached to the tube. The liquid inside the tube will then activate all bacteria and viruses. So we don’t get COVID-19 or any bacteria that will be active after you’ve mixed it. The DNA in the tube is then stable for five years, so it’s perfectly easy to post it back to us. We can then extract your DNA and sequence all the genes, analyze them, provide a risk score and hopefully advise which assisted fertility conception route is best for each particular couple.
At the moment, only people from the UK can get it legally; we’re looking to move into Europe and other markets. It’s only available in the UK, from our website, www.fertilitygenomics.com. You can order a single kit for yourself, or we give a discount for couples. But each member of the couple has to fill in the form themselves. It is their DNA result; it’s not their partner’s DNA result. The woman won’t find out the man’s DNA, and the man won’t find out the woman’s DNA; that is their result days. It’s up to them whether they want to share it with their partner or not. We also do same-sex couples testing as well; again, there’s a couples discount; again, it’s their DNA, not their partner’s DNA. Presumably, if they had a donor sperm and had permission from the donor sperm for lesbian couples, then again, it would be the donor’s information.
As soon as a result is out, they will also receive an email, not with the result, though. They will have a special code in that email to activate on our website. They will get access to the report then. It’s perfectly secure; we employ people that have Ethical Hacking Degrees. They’ve been trained to break into other people’s databases ethically, so they know how to put firewalls up. We’re very secure. They are from Aberdeen University, where I used to be, and they run an Ethical Hacking course, which is world-renowned. One year they hacked into our school’s exam questions to show it could be done, and we had to make it more secure. So they don’t want to advance how hackers work because that would be catastrophic if any of this information got out. It’s very private.
Hopefully, insurance companies won’t demand it. I’m very against any insurance companies demanding that you have to share your genetic information. We’re all human; we’re all flawed. We all have genetic mutations; we should all be insured equally. We don’t want apartheid system where different people are, discriminated against because they carry a particular mutation; that would be unethical. We only reveal one gene, and then we have a risk assessment score. Let’s say there’s a 99% chance with this gene mutation, which is backed up by clinical evidence that you’re always going to fail IVF. We would advise you to switch to the direct sperm injection method probably.
Genomic testing - how does it work?
Genetic tests are performed on a sample of blood, hair, skin, amniotic fluid or saliva which is then sent out to the laboratory to be thoroughly tested.