Navigenics Announces Clinical Partnership with Toronto’s Medcan Clinic

AppleMedicine70Genetic testing provider Navigenics has announced a partnership with the Medcan Clinic, a preventive healthcare clinic located in Toronto, Canada. According to the press release, Medcan will use a version of the Navigenics genotyping service, in combination with family history information, to offer patients an analysis of those “genetic risks that are clinically actionable, allowing patients to lower their risk through prevention strategies and more personalized screening.” The focus on clinically or medically actionable strategies is consistent with the approach taken by the Coriell Personalized Medicine Collaborative (CPMC), which is studying the effect of providing information on “medically actionable” genetic risk factors to its participants. (Interestingly, one of the conditions highlighted by the MedCan-Navigenics release is Alzheimer’s disease, which is not a medically actionable condition in the eyes of the CPMC.)

Assessing the clinical utility of direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic or genomic testing services (including the Navigenics Health Compass service, the price of which was just reduced from $2,500 to $999) has proven to be a thorny issue for the DTC genetics industry. While many DTC companies, including 23andMe, deCODEme and Navigenics, initially positioned themselves not as providers of clinical or medical information but as personal genetic information services, the recent trend has been toward a focus on distinctively clinical features, including genetic carrier screening and medical research. And the regular integration of genetic data with existing patient health data, particularly family histories, is often singled out as a key step in the translation of genetic or genomic data to clinically useful information.

Partnering with a clinical service provider typically has the effect of placing a healthcare provider, usually a physician, in between the consumer/patient and the genetic testing service provider. While Medcan is not the first clinical partnership for Navigenics it remains to be seen whether this is a model that will merely supplement or ultimately replace the direct-to-consumer offerings of companies such as Navigenics.